I plan to return to London soon and one of the items on my list of things to see is the Mark Rothko exhibit at the Tate Modern Gallery. I had heard about the paintings Seagrams commissioned from Rothko to hang on the walls of their new Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City. I know that the paintings never made it to the restaurant and wondered what happened to them.
Well, on my last visit to London, I learned that they are in a room at the Tate Modern Gallery. The pictures you see here are not meant to be accurate representations of the paintings, but rather, to give you an idea of their scale.
A placard accompanying the exhibit stated: “ROTHKO was influenced by Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence with its blind windows and deliberately oppressive atmosphere. Rothko reportedly commented that Michelangelo ‘achieved just the kind of feeling I’m after – he makes the viewers feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up, so that all they can do is butt their heads forever against the wall’.
Wall Text Accompanying, In The Studio Exhibit, Tate Modern Gallery, London, England.
I am not sure how these paintings would have looked in an upscale restaurant, but I did not feel trapped in the room where they are displayed at the Tate. In fact, I found it hard to leave. The paintings have a singular calming effect. Viewers can get close to them or sit across from them and look as long as they want.
If you want to learn more about Mark Rothko and these outstanding paintings, watch film documentary Rothko’s Rooms. The film charts his life, artistic development and includes commentary from his family and friends. Rothko’s Rooms used to be available on YouTube. You can order it from Amazon. Just click on the graphic below.