Get curated editors’ picks, peeks behind the scenes, film recommendations and more.
The US painter Mark Rothko (1903-70) received his first major commission in 1958 for the paintings now known as the Seagram Murals. For the series, Rothko abandoned the brighter colour schemes of his past works, opting instead for a sombre colour palette of reds, browns and blacks. The pieces were intended to line the walls of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue – a glittering symbol of New York opulence. However, as the UK curator, gallerist and video essayist James Payne explores in this episode of his YouTube series Great Art Explained, Rothko later abruptly withdrew the works after dining at the restaurant himself. In his analysis of Rothko’s work, Payne takes viewers on a deep dive into the historical context and making of the murals, including how they were delivered to the Tate in London on the same day Rothko was discovered dead by suicide in his New York studio. In doing so, Payne hints at the inherent tensions between money and artistic intention that extend far beyond Rothko’s Seagram project.
Video by Great Art Explained
Hear from blasphemes, sceptics and free-thinkers in this ‘tour of medieval unbelief’
Ecology and environmental sciences
The ancient Hawaiian myth that sparked a modern ecological breakthrough
‘Dun dun dun duuun!’ Why Beethoven’s Fifth sticks in the head and stirs the heart
The irreverent duo who thumbed their noses at the Soviet Union and the US art world
Thinkers and theories
Henri Bergson on why the existence of things precedes their possibility
Future of technology
Is this the future of space travel? Take a luxury ‘cruise’ across the solar system
Why mathematical truths exist with or without minds to consider them
Stories and literature
A French Creole folktale nearly lost to time is given new, gorgeously animated life
Food and drink
Is a ‘gastronomic society’ dinner the height of decadence, or an act of artistry?