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‘Space’ invades The Modern


by Alan Melson 9 Nov 2007

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is taking a new look at some familiar names in 20th-century abstract art in Declaring Space, which opened in late October and runs through January 6. The exhibition features paintings by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein, and curator Michael Auping says on the museum’s […]

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Mark Rothko: Light Cloud, Dark Cloud (1957)

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is taking a new look at some familiar names in 20th-century abstract art in Declaring Space, which opened in late October and runs through January 6. The exhibition features paintings by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein, and curator Michael Auping says on the museum’s Web site that each artist represents a stage of the evolution of “grand space” within the genre:

“To my mind Rothko draws back the curtains, if you will, on the opening up of this space. Newman emphatically ‘declares’ an almost totemic space, while Fontana literally slices through the picture’s plane with a razor, and Klein, as he pronounced it, leaps into the void.”

Rothko’s name has been in the news recently because two of his paintings – which happen to be from the same year, are roughly the same size and are similar in apparent concept – are up for sale at the moment, one through well-known auction house Sotheby’s and the other through its chief competitor, Christie’s. But the most curious thing about the sales is the difference in estimated sale prices: One is predicted to go for $12-18 million, while the other will likely sell for a paltry $10-15 million. Go figure.

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  • Compared to the Pretty Baby and Ron Mueck exhibits, “Declaring Space” is a bit of a let down. The Yves Klein portion was fascinating. But overall, I wasn’t too impressed. I guess I’m not enough of an afficionado to appreciate Rothko.