The Instigator
Treadsoftly
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
leet4A1
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Mark Rothko's art is valid and genius.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/20/2014 Category: Arts
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,474 times Debate No: 52972
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

Treadsoftly

Pro

All sources must be cited and no profanity or poor grammar will be accepted.
leet4A1

Con

Thanks to Treadsoftly for starting this debate.

As my opponent has yet to post an argument in support of his resolution, I could go the "burden of proof on those making the claim" route for this round, but that would be a waste 1/3 of this debate. So I'll go with what I've got, which is the resolution itself.

The use of the conjunction "and" in the resolution means that if I can successfully counter either my opponent's proposed descriptions of Mark Rothko's work, the resolution itself is countered.

With that in mind, I concede "valid". I'm no big art guy, but I don't think a piece of creative work could ever really be defined as a valid or invalid piece of art. Or meh, perhaps it could, but I'm not the guy to do it. So yes, I will concede that the work this man created is valid as art, if he so chose to call it that. I will therefore focus my attention in this debate on "genius".

My opponent has not specified any particular piece of work by Mark Rothko, so the resolution can be taken to mean that ALL of his works are works of genius. Or at very least the bulk of his work, the defining stuff. Basically, no singling out one or two gems he may have had here and there. Otherwise it would be akin to arguing outright that "Billy Ray Cyrus' music is popular" based on that one song he did in the 90's, and that's as nonsensical as the fact that Billy Ray's mullet was once envied by men and swooned over by women. Lest We Forget.

Now to define "genius" (or, more formally, "ingenious", as we are referring to a thing and not a person):
1. (of a person) clever, original, and inventive.
2. (of a machine or idea) cleverly and originally devised and well suited to its purpose. [1]

We are interested in the latter, as we are not arguing the genius of Mr Rothko himself, rather that of his work, his "ideas". Therefore, my opponent must show that the work of Mark Rothko is:
i) Cleverly devised;
ii) Originally devised; and
iii) Well suited to its purpose

These terms are subjective and unable to be proven absolutely one way or the other, so this debate will come down to who can better-convince the voters how well Mr Rothko's work stands up to these descriptions.

For those unfamiliar with Mr Rothko's work, this page is representative enough for our purposes here: https://www.google.com.au...

Again, I'm no scholar of the arts, but he essentially made a career painting a bunch of colourful rectangles. That is as kind as I can be in describing his work, because that is precisely what it is. There is not a four-year-old on Earth who could not reproduce it. I'm certain my nephew has even created a few just like that, didn't even warrant a spot on the refrigerator.

As for our requisites for ingenuity:
i) This work is not at all clever, regardless what Mr Rothko or my opponent would have to say about his methods and his inspirations, let alone the "underlying meaning" of the works and that sort of guff. That stuff is all beside the point. The works of MC Escher are clever, the colourful rectangles not so much.
ii) The works are not at all original. My four-year-old nephew has done some very similar stuff indeed. My opponent may counter that the works of Mark Rothko were around before my nephew was, so perhaps my nephew stole Mr Rothko's artistic style and is now claiming it as his own to score chicks at daycare. I would counter that my nephew created these drawings unconsciously whilst half asleep and simultaneously watching TV. They really are just colourful rectangles placed in some sense of arrangement.
iii) The works are not particularly well-suited to their purpose, presuming the purposes of art are to be adored, to make people think, to create emotions within people, etc. Again, they are just colourful rectangles, none of that stuff going on here.

I will leave it there for now. Can I please ask those voting for spelling/grammar to keep in mind that I am from Australia and so my spelling of the word "colourful" is indeed correct, at least to me.

Thanks.

[1] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Treadsoftly

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for taking on this debate as it is not one easily disputed, requiring at least a modest understanding of Rothko's art and the field in general. I will now begin my argument. My opponent has stated that I must not single out "one or two gems" and I will not, nor was this my intention. There are many things I could argue, Rothko's fame is intrinsically a testament to his genius as a painter; maybe I could go with the monetary value of his paintings, speaking that since they are worth very large sums of money they must be valuable and genius. I will, however, take neither of these routes. My opponent has stated repeatedly that his nephew has created works "just like" Rothko's. While I highly doubt that his nephew had access to oil paints and a fine canvas, that is beside the point; my opponent has argued that because of his ability to create a similar work his nephew's talent is comparable and equivalent to Rothko's. Now many people can produce fakes, a Swiss collector Ernst Beyeler called a fake Rothko from Queens a "sublime unknown masterwork" in 2005 and hung it in his namesake museum. The reproducibility has little to nothing to do with the art's value as a whole. To say that it does is to say that just because Gustave Eiffel designed a world renowned tower his work is not genius because his nephew at a later age could do the same thing after seeing the tower. My opponent has also stated that "the works are not particularly well-suited to their purpose, presuming the purposes of art are to be adored, to make people think, to create emotions within people, etc." This could not be farther from the truth, as his works have been honored in many forms, including a six Tony award winning play (including best play) titled "Red." I have seen people brought to tears by his works and while my personal testimony holds little weight, the fact that hundreds of thousands of people visit and admire his works each year definitely does.
To close I would like to state that the simplicity of his art and its ability to bring about such strong reactions in people is simple proof of his genius. To say that the art is not genius is to state a personal opinion. While your opinion is ignorant and unpopular it is your right to hold it. I would advise caution expressing it in the future, as a spot on your refrigerator may be worth eighty million dollars to someone else.
http://www.nytimes.com...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://www.markrothko.org...
leet4A1

Con

Thanks to my opponent for the quick rebuttal.

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"Rothko's fame is intrinsically a testament to his genius as a painter; maybe I could go with the monetary value of his paintings, speaking that since they are worth very large sums of money they must be valuable and genius."
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Not necessarily true at all. People like all sorts of different things. Apparently a lot of people like colourful rectangles? This doesn't make them ingenious. I'm glad that Mr Rothko found a following, but we mustn't forget that Carrot Top has a pretty hefty one too. It says nothing of the work's ingenuity, ingenuity being defined in my first post.

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"My opponent has stated repeatedly that his nephew has created works "just like" Rothko's. While I highly doubt that his nephew had access to oil paints and a fine canvas, that is beside the point; my opponent has argued that because of his ability to create a similar work his nephew's talent is comparable and equivalent to Rothko's. Now many people can produce fakes, a Swiss collector Ernst Beyeler called a fake Rothko from Queens a "sublime unknown masterwork" in 2005 and hung it in his namesake museum. The reproducibility has little to nothing to do with the art's value as a whole."
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Absolutely agree. However, my nephew did not "reproduce" the work, he created it himself. Or some damn similar stuff anyway. Seemingly without even trying. He presumably doesn't even know who Mark Rothko is, but he can nevertheless paint just like him! It's uncanny, really.

Would you think a novelist was a genius if he produced work which was difficult to distinguish from work routinely submitted to kindergarten teachers? Would you think a chef was a genius if your four-year-old brother routinely made food just as exquisite in appearance and taste?

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"This could not be farther from the truth, as his works have been honored in many forms, including a six Tony award winning play (including best play) titled "Red." I have seen people brought to tears by his works and while my personal testimony holds little weight, the fact that hundreds of thousands of people visit and admire his works each year definitely does."
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Yeah art people are weird like that. People within the "circle" would never be able to admit to other art folk that all they saw when they looked at his work was a bunch of colourful rectangles. They'd be shot! They are bound by their own and their kind's overwhelming need to feel and appear superior to the layman. A good example being my opponent being unable to resist calling my opinion "ignorant". I'm not ignorant of art, I don't think it's possible to be. If you have to go to University to understand why a particular style of art is good, good it almost certainly ain't. You don't learn why it's good, you learn why you are supposed to think it's good.

Regarding the emotion these paintings are supposed to incite in me, well, I have seen people brought to tears by Oprah talking absolute rubbish. People are weird, and some more than others. Some are just cry-babies. Presumably either the person you saw crying over one of these paintings was a cry-baby, or was on the depressive stream of their bi-polar disorder. There is nothing to cry about with these paintings.

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"To say that the art is not genius is to state a personal opinion. While your opinion is ignorant and unpopular it is your right to hold it. I would advise caution expressing it in the future, as a spot on your refrigerator may be worth eighty million dollars to someone else."
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I hope my opponent realizes that to say that the art is ingenious is also a personal opinion. I have a feeling that he does not.

There is no objective measure for art, we are supposed to take it as we see it. I see colourful rectangles, which is far less ignorant when you consider that they are precisely, literally just that. I haven't been to an art school, but I do have a decent set of 20/20 eyes and the wherewithal to comprehend the messages they're relaying.

And no, my nephew's paintings would not be worth $80m to anybody, because the art world have not yet been told that he is a genius and that they are to revere him. But when they get that message, his paintings are gonna go gang-busters! He has also failed to commit suicide thus far, so we can expect a lot more adoration for my brother's fridge when that happens.

Thanks PRO, I'll leave it there. Art is for everybody, not just snobby art school graduates who have memorized the things they're supposed to like.

Cheers.
Debate Round No. 2
Treadsoftly

Pro

Treadsoftly forfeited this round.
leet4A1

Con

While the man's art appeals to some, I have argued that it is not ingenious. Many points unanswered to due to forfeit. The resolution is fairly subjective anyway, but can I please ask that voters keep personal opinions aside and vote based on arguments presented. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Treadsoftly 3 years ago
Treadsoftly
The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!" - Mark Rothko
Posted by Fanath 3 years ago
Fanath
I mite acepte dis. I speak da English good.
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