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Distancing 6 Feet or 6 Inches

I have always had an affinity for the works of Mark Rothko. Like many people, I am especially fond of the large colorful works late in his career. To me, it was fascinating how he made something very large, bold, and easy to appreciate from a distance while also being captivating from a close range of perspective. Somewhere I read that when Rothko was asked, “What do you feel is the perfect distance in which to view your art”, his answer was “Six inches”. Thus, the irony of his large-format works.

Earlier this spring, when the world was changing by the hour and the pandemic was flexing its grip, I had the opportunity to provide art for an office building lobby. Time was of the essence to complete before a likely quarantine and fatefully I had several pieces in inventory which worked wonderfully with the space.

The largest of the three, called Violet Horizon, is an oil painting that has a semi-translucent, raw umber glaze which runs vertically in contrast to the horizontal composition. For this long lobby area, I felt that the composition could be appreciated from a distance but also rewarding to the viewer who ventured closer—maybe as close as six inches.

I ended up separating two birchwood panels, previously hung as one piece, to create a focal point in two separate hallways. I was thrilled to get everything hung before we retreated to our homes and started maintaining our social distance.

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