The Art History Department Speaker Series
2020 Spring Semester
Pamela G. Smart
Associate Professor and Chair
Art History, Binghamton University
“’Stillness that moves’:
Crafting Atmospheric Pressure in the Restoration of the Rothko Chapel”
Wednesday 26 February
5:00 PM in FA 143
The Rothko Chapel—the ecumenical chapel, named for Mark Rothko, whose suite of paintings were commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil, its founders and benefactors—is approaching its 50th anniversary. This juncture, along with some pressing maintenance issues, has motivated a restoration plan to resolve ongoing problems with the building’s design that have been wrestled with since its conception. Notwithstanding serious shortcomings in the manner in which light enters the building and illuminates the paintings, the chapel has been venerated for its propensity to conjure experiential intensity. Drawing on Gernot Böhme’s spatialized aesthetic of atmospheres, this project is chiefly concerned with the crafting of conditions favorable to the experience of “atmospheric pressure,” as Elaine de Kooning characterized the effect of Rothko’s paintings, and the attunement to contemplation and action they are meant to elicit.
Pamela G. Smartis Associate Professor of Art History at Binghamton, whose research interests include the anthropology of art worlds, museums, critical aesthetics, and affective modalities of experience.