Abstract This article aims to investigate the possible terms and conditions that MarkRothko imposes on the encounter between painting and viewer, especiallyconcerning the paintings he made for the Houston Chapel, also called the RothkoChapel, in 1965-1967, which in many ways differ significantly from his earlierpaintings. In particular, the article seeks to throw light upon as well as todiscuss the conditions that allow the viewer to interact with the paintings andderive a kind of meaning or content from the paintings and, on the other hand,the limitations and paradoxes that meet the viewer in that same process.Conclusively, the article suggests a nuanced view on the chapel paintingsrecognizing that these dark, inaccessible, almost monochrome paintings contributeto an essential discussion of the very role and meaning of art in a late moderncontext.
In his later career, Rothko executed several canvases for three different mural projects. The Seagram murals were to have decorated the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram Building, but Rothko eventually grew disgusted with the idea that his paintings would be decorative objects for wealthy diners and refunded the lucrative commission, donating the paintings to museums including the Tate Modern. The Harvard Mural series was gifted to a dining room in Harvard's Holyoke Center (now Smith Campus Center); their colors faded badly over time due to Rothko's use of the pigment Lithol Red together with regular sunlight exposure. The Harvard series has since been restored using a special lighting technique. Rothko contributed 14 canvases to a permanent installation at the Rothko Chapel, a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas. 781b155fdc