Popped in to East London’s Whitechapel Gallery yesterday and was truly inspired by the small but fascinating Rothko in Britain exhibition. The Abstract Expressionist’s work was first seen in the UK at The Whitechapel in 1961, and to mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark occasion, a set of archive photographs capturing the reactions of attendees at the time is on display, alongside various letters and instructions from Rothko.
I love the way the images capture a fascinating period when society was about to go psychedelic, yet World War II was still part of living memory. I couldn’t help dwelling on who these people were, and what they thought of the work…
Duffel coat. Check. Stovepipes. Check. Nerdy specs. Natch. No doubt these intellectual chaps went on to analyse the art in a Soho coffee shop…
Wonder what these women, who I like to think were called Doris and Ethel, made of Light Red Over Black?
Amazing to think Marjorie and her cronies on the right lived through the Blitz, while the bearded Beatnik on the left might still be a working as a City fat cat or a human rights campaigner. You decide.
The little boy would be middle-aged now. I hope he’s still passionate about art.
The free exhibition continues until February 26.
– Neil, deputy editor