Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mark Rothko at the Tate

About 7 years ago I was alone in London when I encountered Mark Rothko's room in the then-newly opened Tate Modern. It was in that moment, in that room, on that day that I realised I had to do more with my life, starting with making art. A little portion of my headspace is dedicated to this remarkable room and I still return to it with frequency.
A Rothko retrospective is now showing at the Tate Modern
26 September 2008 - 1 February 2009
TA for h~fh

Maquette for installation of Seagram murals at Tate GalleryTate Archive Collection© Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 1998Photo by: J.Fernandes, Tate Photography


The Seagram Murals were originally
commissioned for a restaurant interior - how tragic would that have been if it had materialised?

Rothko requested that the murals should be hung high, as that was how they were painted, and shown on a warm background colour, which is how they are displayed here. (The entire room is painted a warm grey)

In the mid-1960s, Norman Reid, the Director of the Tate Gallery, approached Rothko about the possibility of extending his representation in the Collection. Rothko responded by suggesting a group of Seagram murals to be displayed as an immersive environment. In September 1969, Reid provided Rothko with a small cardboard maquette of the designated gallery space to finalise his selection and to suggest a hang. This exercise resulted in the major gift of nine murals to
the museum, where they have been displayed almost continuously, albeit in different arrangements, as the so-called 'Rothko Room'.

Rothko never devised a final scheme for The Four Seasons restaurant,
nor did he prescribe a fixed order for the display of his murals at Tate. At an early stage he seems to have contemplated a continuous frieze, as evidenced by the small sketches in this room. By contrast, the Tate model, which includes the small maquettes made by Rothko for a number of the works, suggests that he wanted the paintings to be hung slightly apart with the two extreme landscape formats double-hung. It remains inconclusive, however, as one maquette is missing and two others are blank.

All images and text from Tate site

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