Mark Rothko’s Red on Maroon
In 1988, and then again in 2009, Tate Liverpool hosted a display of nine thematically linked paintings by the American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko.1 The chapel-like room in which these large paintings were hung was painted grey in accordance with the artist’s wishes; the lighting was strategically dimmed, creating a sombre, meditative atmosphere. Visitors to the room tended to linger; they observed the paintings with rapt attention, moving around, away from and towards individual canvases in an attempt to see more clearly. Sometimes they sat and closed their eyes; they may have been trying to adjust their vision to the relative darkness of the room, they may have been thinking about their lives or they may have been praying.
How to cite
Philip Shaw, ‘Mark Rothko’s Red on Maroon’, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, January 2013, https://www