0183 Mark Rothko: Art as an Experience

The Significance of Interaction between Painting and Viewer in the Rothko Chapel

  • Ruth Christensen (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This article aims to investigate the possible terms and conditions that Mark Rothko imposes on the encounter between painting and viewer, especially concerning the paintings he made for the Houston Chapel, also called the Rothko Chapel, in 1965-1967, which in many ways differ significantly from his earlier paintings. In particular, the article seeks to throw light upon as well as to discuss the conditions that allow the viewer to interact with the paintings and derive a kind of meaning or content from the paintings and, on the other hand, the limitations and paradoxes that meet the viewer in that same process. Conclusively, the article suggests a nuanced view on the chapel paintings recognizing that these dark, inaccessible, almost monochrome paintings contribute to an essential discussion of the very role and meaning of art in a late modern context.


Mark Rothko, Houston Chapel, Rothko Chapel, Viewer, Experience, Interaction, Contemplation, Transcendence, Immanence, Presence, Performativity