Oct 25, 2014


When the Wife and I finally made it to the Rothko Room at the Tate Modern in London, there was a docent, a teacher, and about a dozen and a half French schoolchildren -- I would guess they were Junior High age (?).  (I also like to imagine they were from Paris, but I have no idea.)  The docent spoke in English to the children.

Rothko Room at the Tate Modern

The docent explained about the Seagram's commission, and how Rothko turned it down, and the paintings ended up here at the Tate instead.  And, he even told the possibly apocryphal story about why Rothko refused the Seagram's job, where his very large paintings would have been hung in the Four Seasons restaurant on the ground floor.  The story goes that Rothko refused the commission because he could not stand the idea that people would be eating in front of his paintings.  The docent leaned heavily on the idea that the story was not true.  Personally, I disagree.  That seems totally like something Rothko would say.

The Wife and I explored the room a bit on our own, and soaked up the religious atmosphere, but you really could not help but be sucked in to the docent's talk.  The kids were not having any of it. They were bored to distraction.  They seemed to understand the language.  That was not the problem.  They just did not "get" Rothko, or Abstract Expressionism, I suppose.  

The docent even tried some typical English laconic humor out on the kids.  I do not remember the jokes.  The Wife, the teacher, and I all thought he was very funny.  The jokes died with the kids, though.  They continued to yawn, scratch their arms, and smack their gum.  

A Monet Water Lilies panel at the Tate Modern

Finally, at one point, the docent proclaimed that just about everyone believed that the Rothko paintings at the Tate were considered the finest acquisition the museum ever made. Then, he said, he begged to differ.  He thinks the Monet Water Lilies panel is the best.  

I love the Water Lilies panel, but I got to disagree with him there on that one, too.

When we first encountered the group upon the entering the room, I thought it might spoil the experience for me.  It did not.  Everything was just fine.

Long work week just about over! 
All my love, 
Ardent (mds)

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