Thursday, July 2, 2020

Everywhere Puce --- Day 9/80

Walk: No
Distance: Yoga

Perhaps she is facile, but bright colors to Ciwt are happy colors and dark ones aren't.  There's a particular dark color that she finds gloomy bordering on alienating.  Puce.

By definition puce is a dark red or purple brown, a brownish purple-grey color.  Ick!  It gets worse: Puce (according to an online source) means 'flea' in French, and (the source goes on) its use as a color is said to refer to the color of bloodstains in your sheets due to flea bites.

So why oh why did Mark Rothko have to use puce throughout his Rothko Chapel (and put an end Ciwt's unqualified love of his art)?

Rothko Chapel, Interior, Houston

Perhaps his Houston patrons who commissioned the Rothko Chapel, John and Dominique de Menil,  had the same question. Reportedly Dominique's first reaction when she saw the paintings was "Frankly, I expected color."  (Yes!  Those beautiful stirring colors from earlier in the 60's - and yesterday's CIWT). Actually, Rothko had an answer to that question: It took him a year to decide what the paintings should be: Something you don't want to look at. 
Rothko's health, state of mind and, likely, spirit were deteriorating as he painted the Chapel paintings in a New York studio in 1967.  In late 1970, a year before the Chapel opened, he committed suicide, and the story of the Chapel became complicated and controversial.

Perhaps the main controversy surrounds the beauty and feeling of the Rothko Chapel.  There are many, locally and internationally, who adore the paintings and come in solitude to meditate, reflect, be with their private thoughts. As Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, a conservator for the Whitney Museum wrote in 2001, "The Chapel ..leaves you alone with yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, your vulnerabilities..The artist did not want the paintings to come out to you; he wanted them to draw you in." 

Then there is the other camp.  One Texas artist is quoted as saying bluntly of the chapel, "It is a place where art and life and imagination go to die." And, one of Rothko's greatest art critic defenders described the Chapel as "at worst a well-designed crematorium." 

Rothko Chapel Exterior

Sight unseen, Ciwt has a pretty good sense of where she positions herself in this debate.  If he just hadn't chosen PUCE.....

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