Saturday, 12 May 2012
It is by Russian American artist Mark Rothko. Yesterday it sold in New York for £53.8m, a record for a contemporary art work at auction.
Originally it was titled Sightscreen, and is one of long series of works in which Rothko tried to represent that standard bit of equipment seen at all cricket grounds. He had a pretty good stab at the size - the painting is over 8ft tall, but there is something not quite right. Frankly, it is a bit on the orange side. Recognising it was a poor representation of the subject, he retitled the painting Orange, Red and Yellow. Which shows the power of the artist's imagination.
No one really knows why Rothko became obsessed with the sightscreen but he made many attempts to paint them and did sightscreens in nearly every colour but white. Ultimately this only confirmed his knowledge he had of cricket was rudimentary.
Nevertheless there are those who praise the spiritual properties of Rothko's attempts to paint the sightscreen. They are seen as transcendant and beyond simple reproduction. The tone and quality of the paint on the canvas is important to the total experience and, according to one prominent critic, being present in front of them will 'singe your retinas.' Further evidence that as sightscreens the paintings are pretty useless, for facing pace bowling with singed retinas is not ideal.
Rothko painted this canvas in 1961, the same year that he visited his doctor complaining of blurry vision and apparitions of shadowy forms. That may or may not have been to do with the fact that he'd been living on alcohol for six weeks. He took his own life in 1970, his knowlege of cricket rudimentary and his quest to paint the perfect sightscreen unfulfilled