Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel

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

To view the slides discussed in this video click here

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On March 10, cultural historian Annie Cohen-Solal will publish her new book, Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, (Jewish Lives) with Yale University Press.

After her acclaimed biography Sartre: A Life (1987) became an international best seller, Cohen-Solal was asked by French President François Mitterrand to serve as the Cultural Counselor to the French Embassy in the United States. She never stopped writing, and her books have always been acclaimed, from Painting American (2001) to Leo Castelli & His Circle (2010), as well as New York Mid Century (2014) with Paul Golberger and Bob Gottlieb and Magiciens de la terre, retour sur une exposition légendaire (2014), with Jean-Hubert Martin, at the Centre Pompidou.

As a professor des universités,Cohen-Solal has held positions at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, University of Caen, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the Freie University of Berlin, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is now special advisor to the president of the Musée de l’immigrationin Paris and the co-leader of a forthcoming workshop at CASBS (Stanford University) on the theme “Crossing Boundaries.”

In Cohen-Solal's view, Mark Rothko who, at age 10, immigrated from Russia to the United States, became an artist as the last resort to find his identity in the US society. After enduring experiences of rejections In Portland (OR) and at Yale, after fighting the conformism of most New York institutions, after finding his own successful signature style, he went on experimenting, thus becoming  a true pioneer in the last decade of his life. His most important creation is the Rothko Chapel, in which the artist tried to convey his conception of art as an experience. Commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in Houston, this oecumenical space has since become the essential crossroads for non-violence leaders in the 21th century.  Mark Rothko -an immigrant, an artist and a pioneer- managed to build his career against the ethos of exclusion, thus becoming a true agent of transformation in US society. Annie Cohen-Solal believes that his trajectory touches on the global threats that worry us all today, and shows that the rejections in the life of an immigrant can be overcome and turned into the very tools to mend the social fabric.

In March, April and September 2015 she will be touring the United States to present the book. She will make two public appearences in New York, a lecture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on March 11 and a conversation with journalist Alexander Stille at Albertine Books on March 26.

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