Above: Mark Rothko, Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea, 1944
London’s Tate is lending its entire Rothko Room, consisting of nine Seagram Murals, to the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris for a major Mark Rothko retrospective (18 October-2 April 2024).
Rothko greatly admired JMW Turner’s art and gifted a collection of his paintings to Tate in 1969. Originally commissioned in 1958 for New York’s Four Seasons restaurant, the Jewish-Latvian artist created these murals using a dark, luminous palette to express basic human emotions. However, deeming the restaurant unfitting for his works, he cancelled the contract in 196, saying the restaurant was merely a place where the New York City elite could “feed and show off”.
This display at Tate Britain marks the 50th anniversary of Rothko’s gift, inspired by his wish to see his works displayed alongside JMW Turner’s.
The Rothko Room at Tate, recently hosting a Cy Twombly exhibit, will soon display Joan Mitchell’s works loaned from the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
This Paris retrospective, co-curated by Rothko’s son, Christopher, will feature over 115 artworks sourced from worldwide collections. It will present a chronological exploration of Rothko’s career, starting with his only self-portrait from 1936, followed by his 1930s urban landscapes and leading to his famous abstract works.
The exhibition will also highlight Rothko’s progression to abstraction, encapsulated in his Multiform works.
Suzanne Pagé, the exhibition’s co-curator, says: “At the heart of the exhibition are abstract works from the so-called ‘Classic’ period, from the late 1940s onwards, in which a unique colourist asserts himself in the radiant, mysterious brilliance of colour raised to incandescence. This, his best- known period, will be particularly well represented here by some seventy works, including two exceptional ensembles, one from the Phillips Collection in Washington DC., and the Seagram Murals from Tate.”
The show will also include works by Alberto Giacometti, featuring an unexecuted Unesco commission from 1967, which intended to pair Giacometti’s The Walking Man with Rothko’s Black and Grey series. “In resonance with Giacometti’s sculptures,” Pagé remarks, “They bestow a density and solemnity as well as a tension in which the poignancy sought by Rothko seems to reappear in a new form”.