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Initiating the season of Rothko

Elizabeth WardBy Elizabeth Ward on Jan 11, 2012 | Add a Comment Add a Comment (230)

Initiating the season of Rothko

The Rothko Room at The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Photo © Robert Lautman

This season, it is all about Rothko.  Three of D.C.’s most prestigious organizations have coincided to bring about a colorful presentation of Rothko’s unforgettable work – in museums, on the stage, and through lecture – and it’s all starting TOMORROW.

This season, it is all about Rothko.  Three of D.C.’s most prestigious organizations have coincided to bring about a colorful presentation of Rothko’s unforgettable work – in museums, on the stage, and through lecture – and it’s all starting TOMORROW.

Tomorrow evening, The Phillips Collection kicks off the festivities with an incredible introduction to Rothko’s work and world of color, keenly entitled “Mark Rothko and Color.” Klaus Ottmann, Phillips Curator at Large and Rothko expert, will discuss how the artist used color as a gateway to the soul. There is no telling where this conversation will lead, as there are so many dimensions to delve into: the shifts and movements through space the colors seem to create, the political meaning behind his palette, and even the many philosophies embodied in each distinct slab.

In looking at Rothko's paintings, Duncan Phillips (founder of The Phillips Collection) wrote, "What we recall are not memories but old emotions disturbed or resolved—some sense of well being suddenly shadowed by a cloud—yellow ochres strangely suffused with a drift of gray prevailing over an ambience of rose or the fire diminishing into a glow of embers, or the light when the night descends."

The lecture is by donation, thereby accessible anyone interested. Plus, the Phillips is keeping its door open until 8:30pm, allowing attendees to spend additional time in the Phillips’s chapel-like Rothko Room, where Rothko’s idea that color can express the full gravity of religious yearnings is most evident. The room, which holds four paintings by Mark Rothko, is relatively small, reflecting Rothko's preference for exhibiting his art "in a scale of normal living."  Rothko himself took a close interest in the room, which later helped inspire similar Rothko installations elsewhere.

Even if you can’t make the lecture tomorrow night, the Rothko room at the Phillips is one of those places that every visitor and resident should exist inside, and more than once. It is the perfect introduction to Rothko and his expression.

From there, get to know him more by visiting several of Rothko’s paintings derived from the so-called Seagram Mural project, now on view in the Concourse galleries of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. The installation of these pieces also coincides with the presentation of John Logan’s play Red at Arena Stage (on stage January 20 to March 4), which dramatizes Rothko’s struggle with the same Seagram commission. The show plays from January 20 through March 4.

For the ultimate enthusiast, learn more about the impressive partnership between The Phillips Collection and Arena Stage to ensure you enjoy both experiences: The Phillips Collection and Red art package offers a discounted ticket to Red at Arena Stage, as well as a “Membership for a Day” pass to The Phillips Collection.

Don’t forget though, it all begins tomorrow:

Mark Rothko and Color
January 12, 2012, 6:00 p.m.
@ The Phillips Collection
1600 21st Street NW
(Dupont Circle Metro – Q Street exit)

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