An Evening with Annie-Cohen Solal and Alexander Stille
On Thursday, March 26, 2015, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine Books welcomed Annie Cohen-Solal and Alexander Stille for a discussion Cohen-Solal’s latest book Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel. Thomas Michelon, the French Embassy's Deputy Cultural Counselor, welcomed the guest speakers with the following remarks.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us tonight to explore the work of two exceptional scholars: Annie Cohen-Solal and Alexander Stille.
Dear Annie, dear Alexander, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Cultural Services tonight. Or should I say, “welcome back,” since you, Annie, certainly know our Payne Whitney mansion well. As a past Cultural Counselor, you are more than a little familiar with our activities here.
Tonight, dear Annie, is doubly special because it is not the first time our paths cross. I fondly remember your North American tour, which marked the release of your excellent book on Leo Castelli.
This evening we celebrate your next oeuvre, one that we must consider, again, as a “pierre marquante.”
Leo Castelli’s biography was already a tour de force and I have no doubt that your wonderful book on Mark Rothko will follow the same trajectory. It will undoubtedly change our view on this revolutionary figure of American cultural life.
If I may, I would like to draw a parallel between these two publications. Both examine a figure of the European diaspora who was driven to the United States by anti-Semitism and violence against Jews. There, both Rothko and Castelli found solace. Each book highlights the essential contribution of these singular, Jewish figures to the cultural and intellectual life of the United States. They themselves were steeped in a long tradition of intellectual and cultural life, one that played an essential role in the avant-garde tradition. Rothko and Castelli were major contributors to an incredible cultural shift in the United States which – in just a couple of decades – made a permanent mark on our global map of knowledge, intelligence, and culture. Both reshaped the history of avant-garde itself.
Your books also remind us just how much the cultural history of the United States and Europe is intricately linked. One nourishes the other, and they enter into dialogue that is often a healthy emulation and always a profound admiration.
Dear Annie, you carry this four-fold narrative masterfully. I am certain that Mr. Alexander Stille and you will plunge us into an inspiring adventure, and that the audience will be awed by your take on the genius that was Mark Rothko.
Watch the event here.