The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas has been on my must-see list for many years. Last Friday my husband and I had the opportunity to visit this sacred space for the first time.
Excerpts from the Chapel brochure:
Conceived and founded by art collectors and philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, the Rothko Chapel was formally dedicated in 1971 as an ecumenical sanctuary by leaders from the world's religious traditions. The tranquil, park-like grounds contain an octagonal Chapel that houses fourteen masterpieces by American painter Mark Rothko and a public plaza where American artist Barnett Newman's colossal Broken Obelisk sculpture rises from a large, rectangular reflecting pool.
The history of the Chapel dates to 1964, when the de Menils commissioned the noted painter Mark Rothko.
Rothko had long yearned for the opportunity to create a total art space, to shape a complete environment where his paintings would be seamlessly integrated into the structure and purpose of the space that housed them. The Rothko Chapel commission granted the artist the unique freedom to create such an environment. Rothko worked closely with the architect Philip Johnson and then with Houston architects Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubry. The resulting suite of majestic paintings of deep velvety blacks and purples successfully cultivate the spiritual qualities envisioned by the de Menils- reverence, intimacy and timelessness.
Mark Rothko, No. 8, Black Form Paintings
Dominique de Menil:
"The Rothko Chapel is oriented toward the sacred and yet it imposes no traditional environment. If offers a place where a common orientation could be found- an orientation towards God, named or unnamed, an orientation towards the highest aspirations of Man and the most intimate calls of the conscience."
At the Chapel grounds...
Barnett Newman, Broken Obelisk, 1963
Photos are mine except those linked to source.