PARABLE – The Rothko Date


The Parable of The Rothko Date

Not long into my courtship of Katherine, we had a date to visit one of my favorite places in Manhattan, The Museum of Modern Art.  As we toured together I had the (hoped for) sense that she would be impressed by my erudition and culture.  We viewed works familiar and unfamiliar and often stood together in quiet awe of great works. I was commenting on my favorites, showing off a bit.  We finally came to one of my favorite galleries and we stood before Mark Rothko’s abstract masterpiece, No. 10 (1950).

We stood together a few feet away staring.  Finally, Kathy said, “I could do that.”  and was about to continue when I impulsively said, “shut up!”   And bit my tongue that very second —not the sort of thing you say when courting.

She was very quiet and my mind was spinning with thoughts of damage control … when she quietly said, “okay”

I’ve since learned that she dates her admiration of modern art to that moment.

Another triumph for authenticity and spontaneity (but I still think it was a close call).

I would not have thought there was any way Rothko’s painting would be the catalyst for a profound response of any kind, but consider the Rothko Chapel, brought up in comments on CYNTHIA’s TEARS:  Of course being informed about a very affecting situation by becoming aware of your uncontrolled reactions is by no means rare, but some places allow (or evoke) such expressions much more than others.  For example, people are often surprised by their emotional response to the Rothko Chapel.  Three triptytchs and five single paintings are on the walls of a space designed to facilitate meditation, Morton Feldman’s music plays.  The experience was decribed by Jacqui Shine for the NY Times Magazine in  2017.   Listen to Pat Dowell’s commentary on National Public Radio.   Evoking emotion was Rothko’s explicit ambition; read  a little more about Rothko from MoMA.