Monday, September 29, 2008

Mark Rothko exhibition at the Tate Modern in London

For me, the "Rothko Room" at the Tate Modern is a must-see for any trip to London. Although it is a cliche to say it, the paintings do have a spiritual element, and to me are more spiritual than, for example, St Paul's Cathedral across the Thames. In the darkened Rothko Room, the paintings seem to shimmer.

Enjoying the September sunshine in London last Saturday, I walked over the Millennium Bridge across the Thames to the Tate Modern to see the Rothko Room. Here we see the Tate Modern silhouetted behind the glaring sun.

Once at the Tate Modern, I is hard to avoid noticing that the Tate is now running an exhibition around the Rothko paintings. This means that I pay 13 pounds to see the same paintings as usual (chiefly the famous 4 Seasons / Seagram Building paintings intended for New York). But, of course, there are more Rothko pieces than usual. And, this being the Tate Modern, more Rothko merchandise than usual to buy.

Tickets for the exhibition can be purchased in the cavernous Turbine Hall (is it possible to describe the Turbine Hall without using the word "Cavernous"?). The tickets are timed, as with "Fastpass" tickets at Disneyworld, so you have a set time to enter the exhibition itself.

The entrance is on the fourth floor. The quote from Rothko alludes to the "sacred experiences" which his works evoke, but also "profane experiences" too (you can also see in the paintings a womb-like evocation).

Looking down from the Fourth Floor to the Turbine Hall, we see people queuing up to get tickets for the exhibition:

I have not attempted to do the paintings justice with my mobile phone camera. Instead, here is
a video of Achim Borchardt-Hume, curator of the Rothko exhibition, describing the show.

Exiting the exhibition and looking back over the Millenium Bridge, we see the shadow of the Tate Modern stretching out halfway over the Thames towards St Paul's, connecting one modern, secular, representation of the spiritual with an older, religious, representation.


Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

I crossed the Millennium Bridge, not long after it had been stopped from wobbling, with a wheeled suitcase. The noise was unbelievable. I couldn't get to the other side fast enough. I didn't go to the Tate Modern, but instead visited the Globe. Unfortunately there wasn't time for both.

Mark O'Neill said...

I've never visited the Globe. I often plan to, but end up spending too much time in the Tate Modern.

I know what you mean about noisy wheelie bags. 10 years ago, I used to often take the early Aircoach bus from central Dublin to Dublin airport to catch the first flight to London. I would wheel my wheelie bag down the cobblestone narrow streets, making an ungodly racket, at 4.30am. I'm sure many people wanted to wring my neck then.