An untitled 1949 painting by Mark Rothko, from the National Gallery’s collection and until recently on view in a show at the Columbia Museum of Art. I’ve written a few times about the effect of black-and-white photoreproduction on Matisse and Picasso. Recently, I’ve begun to wonder if the rise of color plates in art books, after World War II, affected the color-full and color-field abstraction that came to be made then. Who wouldn’t imagine their art forward to the day that it would be reproduced? Of course, there wasn’t color repro in Renaissance Florence, but that didn’t stop Botticelli and others from going for chroma. (Or is chroma/non-chroma only a salient binary after Daguerre?)
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