Mark Rothko’s paintings in the Rothko Room at Tate Modern have inspired two garden rooms. Bronze leaved hedging plants are being clipped to form living pictures in front of walls of hornbeam.
Prunus, berberis and beech all have slightly different depths of dark colours and textures while the beech has a wonderful shiny character bouncing off the light. Here there are subtle differences which weave together and create an intricate pattern, merging, overlapping sometimes to the fore, sometimes behind. The onlooker has to stop and stare and look….taking a moment to search and contemplate.
It is a garden of emotion, contemplative and enclosing. In the second room we added a new panel based on Green on Maroon 1961 which we saw one February at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. This was the year in which an important exhibition was devoted to his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the first solo show which that museum had dedicated to an artist of the New York School.
In between the two rooms, a tall Irish yew has been planted in centre position inspired by Barnet Newman’s ‘Broken Obelisk’ outside the Houston Chapel. Last autumn we visited MOMA in New York and the Philips Gallery in Washington where we saw more of Rothko’s work as well as a second copy of the Broken Obelisk. It was a memorable experience.
We also admired The Red Studio by Henri Matisse. This was a painting which appeared in MOMA in the late 1940s and which Rothko went to see on very many occasions being transfixed by its colour and form. We planted our second Rothko Room with a carpet of purple Heuchera so that floor and walls were a similar hue. We even added some red furniture and a type of grandfather clock where the hands were missing as if time had stood still.