chapter  1
14 Pages

Crying at Nothing but Colors

MARK ROTHKO LEANED BACK in his armchair, studying her through his thick glasses. His lips were pursed, his eyes half-closed in a smoker’s squint. She stepped forward. It was a late afternoon at the end of November 1967, and the light was failing. Even at midday, the Old Fire House studio on East Sixty-ninth Street was a dark place, and Rothko had made it gloomier by hanging a parachute over the skylight. He wanted a muted effect, so he could study the faint mottled surfaces of his paintings with exacting precision. At first his visitor could barely see. Then, slowly, out of the darkness, she found the outlines of several huge unfinished canvases.