Back from Houston with Rothko on my mind


I am just home from Houston where I currently have an exhibition at Gremillion and Company, Fine Art. Yesterday I was able to take in The Menil Collection.

Rothko Chapel

Rothko Chapel

I had seen the Rothko Chapel built by the de Menil’s before and I was not happy with it. The lighting seemed too harsh, the building itself, too dreary. But everything that didn’t work at the Chapel did work in the museum, which houses several huge Rothko’s that were additional  panels for the ones in the Chapel.

Here the light was softer, more muted. In these hugely tall panels of mostly black and maroon, I found myself contemplating the differences between the panels. It appeared that the value changed from one panel to the next. But then it also seemed that they were exactly the same.  Was the rectangle in the middle located in the same place in each painting or was it moved slightly? In one, the maroon  color seemed to lift off the surface in such a way that you felt that you could walk behind it.

Rothko in the DeMenil Collection

Rothko in The Menil Collection

Photographs can tell you nothing of the experience. These paintings cannot be reproduced. And they can only be seen over time. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, more is revealed. But I am telling you nothing new. This is how Rothko paintings demand to be looked at: over time, with patience. In fact, to look at a Rothko is more like the act of listening.

Here is a great description of these paintings in a post by N. Elizabeth Schlatter:

If you go:

General Information / Map

The Collection
North portico. Photo: Hickey-Robertson, Houston

Free Admission

The museum is free to all visitors.

1515 Sul Ross Street      Houston, TX 77006    Phone: 713-525-9400


11:00 a.m – 7:00 p.m.   Wednesday – Sunday
The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

handicaped symbol  Handicapped accessible entrance on Sul Ross St. side of building.
Wheelchair accessible – when planning  your visit please
call for details, (713) 525-9400, or write

Holiday Closings

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24, 2011
Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, 2011
New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2012
Spring Holiday, Sunday, April 8, 2012

Driving Directions

From US 59, northbound or southbound, take the Shepherd Street exit. Travel north on Shepherd Street to West Alabama Street. Turn right on West Alabama Street. Travel 3/4 mile and cross Mandell Street. Parking for the museum is on the right, between Mandell and Mulberry Streets.
From Downtown or Midtown, take Main Street or Milam south and turn right on West Alabama Street. Travel one mile past Montrose Blvd. and cross Mulberry Street. Museum parking is on the left between Mulberry and Mandell Streets.

Select a building name below to find on map or click building on map.

Map Key


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  1. Paul Christian
    Paul Christian05-12-2012

    Beautiful… sadly, like you say…photo’s can’t capture Rothko’s beauty…

  2. Leslie Parke
    Leslie Parke05-12-2012

    Yes, Paul, so much of the work of the New York School has to be experienced in person. The scale of it, the subtleties of color, everything is completely different in person than in reproduction.

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