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Old 04-24-2010, 06:34 PM   #1
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Simon Schama on Rothko's return

Suddenly Rothko is everywhere, and it’s safe to say he would have liked that. In New York, everyone wants to see Red, John Logan’s play about the artist. In London, the play and Alfred Molina’s confrontational performance for the Donmar Warehouse predictably triggered an outbreak of eye-rolling among the Art Classes. The prospect of yet another melodrama featuring a heroically tormented painter trowelling on the angst in heavy pigment, and monologues about nailing the Tragic to the canvas, brought on an attack of sneering at romantic platitudes; much muttering about Sturm und Drang for the middlebrow. But on the other side of the Atlantic, Rothko’s own side, the play has been received as deep, dark and moving, much like the artist’s late works.
It is, to be sure, a very different Russia that is now giving Rothko his moment, and attempting even to reclaim him as some sort of emigrant who in some sort of way belonged to a Russian or at least east European tradition. In one of the catalogue essays for the Garage show, Andrei Tolstoy works hard at this notion, initially bundling Rothko in with other Russian-Jewish artists who, sooner or later, flew the coop, Tsarist or Soviet, such as Chagall, Soutine and Naum Gabo, before giving up the effort and conceding that everything Rothko did that now commands our attention was conceived a long, long way away – both imaginatively as well as geographically – from his native city of Dvinsk.

‘Mark Rothko: Into an Unknown World’, Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, until August 14. Центр современной культуры «ГАРАЖ»

Simon Schama is an FT contributing editor
.Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010. / Arts / Visual Arts - Simon Schama on Rothko's return

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Old 04-24-2010, 06:58 PM   #2
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Schama did a documentary series 'The Power of Art' and it finished with an episode on Rothko, I liked it.

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Old 04-24-2010, 07:11 PM   #3
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I always got crucified for saying this in design school, but I never found Rothko to be all that interesting
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