Rothko at Whitechapel: the effect of his paintings on the public

A short video clip from the Whitechapel Gallery in Britain showing their Rothko archives and photos from Rothko’s 1961 exhibition. Curator Nayia Yiakoumaki narrates.

I’m always struck by the way the people react to Rothko’s art. Usually in photographs where people are standing next to paintings, either the painting dominates and the people look like clutter – you wish they’d get out of the way so you can see the painting better – or the people dominate and the painting shrinks to just a swirl of color on the wall.

But in the Rothko photographs, the people and the art blend together in a way that seems so right. Like people basking on a beach, or floating in a pool, they react to the monumental simplicity of these paintings in such an instinctive, natural way.