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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

'The Silence of Mark Rothko' DVD: Portrait of the Artist by His Young Man

The Silence of Mark Rothko

The new documentary "The Silence of  Mark Rothko," which is coming out on DVD courtesy of Icarus Films, creates an intimate portrait that far outshines anything that the Lifetime cable network produces. This documentary hits actual and virtual store shelves on July 5, 2016.

The release date of "Silence" is also when Icarus releases a DVD of the documentary "The Next Big Thing." That one analyzes the current money-driven state of the current market for the work of Rothko and other modern artists.

The intimacy of "Silence" relates to the primary narration coming from the writings of Rothko and by having Rothko's son Christopher read those passages. One of the first reminiscences involving Mark as a boy expressing resentment regarding his parents making him dress formally after emigrating from Russia to New York sets the personal tone of the film.

Christopher, museum curator of the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague Franz Kaiser, and two other Rothko experts provide a nicely full picture of this artist whose life story is as interesting as his highly expressive paintings. The extensive coverage of the Rothko Chapel in Houston and other commissions contributes an element of the commerce aspect of art that makes "Silence" and "Thing" very compatible.

Although Christopher steals one scene by purposefully going off script to share a personal memory of his father, a homeless man who is hanging out on the stoop of the New York building that houses the former studio of Mark is the most entertaining contributor. He is aware of the history of the building but does not know much about its significance. A Rothko expert making a subsequent studio tour very personal is another especially good segment.

Kaiser offers a fascinating look at the process of staging an art exhibit. This includes sharing his thoughts regarding the arrangement of the Rothko paintings. Bluntly stating that he is purposefully providing visitors who to go in one direction a certain experience and visitors who go in the alternative direction a different experience is equally insightful and amusing.

The award for most poignant moment easily goes to the story of the decay of a large project by Rothko. The irony is that the cause of that destruction is a natural element that is a primary consideration regarding the Chapel pieces and other Rothko work.

On a larger level, both the images of the work of Rothko and the narration of Christopher regarding the dislike of labels (such as abstract and expressionism) by his father enhance the aforementioned intimate sense of the man. It is equally nice to sense that art, rather than commerce, is the primary muse of this artist.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Silence" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.