Let’s color some Rothko paintings purple

In 1985 Mike Kelley photographed a handful of Rothko paintings from a catalog. Then Kelley changed the original color of the photographs to be all purple. He sold prints of these altered colored prints. Note, Kelley didn’t even photograph the real paintings. He photographed the paintings from a physical print catalog. (Thanks to Greg.org for writing about these prints, “Mike Kelley & Rothkoian Purple“)

These prints were sold as an edition of five. Elton John bought edition 4/5. Yes, the legendary Sir Elton John bought altered Rothko paintings changed to the hue of purple. What a crazy world of culture that Elton John owns altered-Rothkos.

And now the altered Rothko prints are being sold at Sotheby’s. What a journey these have gone through.

  1. Mark Rothko painted his normal large canvases
  2. Someone photographed them
  3. Someone laid them out in a catalog and printed the catalog
  4. Mike Kelley takes the catalog and photographs it
  5. Mike Kelley changes the color of the paintings to purple
  6. Mike Kelly makes prints
  7. The prints are sold to Elton John
  8. Elton John is selling the prints to the highest bidder

Greg Allen of greg.org recently discovered the exact catalog that Mike Kelley used. Amazing research. You can see a photo of the original catalogs on his post.

I stumbled across another rabbit trail while reading Greg.org’s post about the original catalog. One that led me to another purple transformation where Pantone made a shade of purple just for Prince.

Here’s a connecting rabbit trail:

  1. Mike Kelley coloring Rothko purple
    Greg.org explains how he found the catalogs in 2014.
    On his site he links to…

  1. Greg.org’s #ebayTestListing prints
    On Greg.org’s site, he has some internet conceptual art he posted on eBay in 2015.
    In this post, he links to…

  1. Over The Opening (OTO) @ the Internet Yami-ichi
    This show had Greg Allen’s art, and other internet art made physical.
    This show page links to a review…

  1. The Weird, Wide World of an Internet Flea Market
    This 2015 show was really interesting. Internet art printed or sold on flash drives for under $10.
    Seeing that someone would write about such a quirky show in 2015, I was curious who the author is, so I looked at her article archives on Hyperallergic…

  1. Jillian Steinhauer’s Hyperallergic author page
    She wrote 1,071 articles for Hyperallergic from 2011 to 2018.
    One of her most recent articles on the first page of her list is from 2017…

  1. Pantone Devotes a Shade of Purple 2 Prince

We go from Mike Kelley coloring Rothko paintings purple to Pantone dedicating a specific shade of purple to the singer Prince.

Can we in some ways equate Mike Kelley with Pantone?

Both adjusting the world to the hue of purple.

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