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Rothko’s Rant on Other Artists


Rothko and Ken get into a spirited argument about the relevance and longevity of modern art, citing painters like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein.


[slam] - --So how did you like the exhibit?

- Oh those young artists, they're out to murder me!

- --That's kind of extreme.

- Yeah, but not inaccurate.

- --You think Jasper Johns is trying to murder you.

- Yes!

- --What about Frank Stella?

- Yes!

- --Robert Rauschenberg?

- Yes!

- --Roy Lichtenstein?

- Which one is he?

- --Comic books.

- Yes!

[laughing] - --Andy Warhol?

[laughing] You sound like an old man.

- Yeah I am an old man!

- --Not that old.

- Today I'm old.

- --If you say so.

- Look my point is people like me my contemporaries, my colleagues, all those painters who came up with me.

We all had one thing in common, we understood the importance of seriousness.

- --You're too much!

- What?

- --You heard me!

- What the hell did you say to me!

- --Who are you to assume they're not serious?

- Oh look at their work!

- --I have.

- No not like you usually look at things like an over eager undergraduate.

- --I have.

- And what do you see?

- --Nevermind.

- Nevermind, nevermind, what do you see?

- --This moment, right now.

- What and all those flags and comic books and g#*ddamn soup cans.

- --This moment right now and a little bit tomorrow.

- Oh you think that's good?

- --It's neither good nor bad, but it's what people want.

- Exactly my point!

- --So art shouldn't be popular at all now?

- It shouldn't ONLY be popular.

- --You may not like it, but nowadays as many people are genuinely moved by Frank Stella as by Mark Rothko.

- Nonsense!

- --Don't think so!

- You know the problem with these painters?

It's exactly what you just said.

They're painting for this moment right now and that's all.

It's nothing but Zeitgeist art.

Completely temporal, completely disposable, like Kleenex.

- --Like Campbell soup?

Like comic books?

- Oh you think Andy Warhol is going to be hanging in museums in 100 years?

Alongside the Bruegels and Vermeers.

- He's hanging alongside Rothko now.

- --Because those g#*ddamn galleries will do anything for money.

Cater to any wicked taste.

That's business young man, it's not art.

- --Do you ever get tired of telling people what art is?

- No, not ever, until they listen.


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