Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A little too bleak for him

Mark Rothko, Black on Maroon, 1959 (from the Seagrams series)

Simon Schama's Power of Art has been showing on PBS for the last month, and this week the precocious wordslinger Schama comes to Houston- visiting the Menil to see some of his work from the height of his career 1957-58, and later to the Rothko Chapel, where the host insists "lots of ink has been spilled trying to convince people these paintings are not as dark as they appear" following it with a long pan into the center of a painting he calls "black as Texas oil".

Orange and Yellow , 1956.

Rothko Chapel

His focus on the Seagrams' paintings instead of either Rothko's most vibrant period or the chapel- his last completed work- is a bit Anglocentric (the Seagrams are at the Tate while the latter two are here in Houston) but the show is, as always, a gushing romance novel about painting and a good story too.


Anonymous said...

"Novel" is right. Schama tweaks history for drama and widens the gulf between art elite and the masses. Most illustrative is the description of Guernica as a "miracle", rather than the sweat-genius of a small bald man with strong loins, i.e., a very human and very great work.