Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, the French cultural historian Annie Cohen-Solal’s new biography on the artist, focuses on his Jewish identity. Cohen-Solal theorizes that Rothko was a “passeur,” someone who traveled between cultures and navigated their differences, which enabled him to become “an agent of transformation” through his art. Cohen-Solal traces his life from birth in Dvinsk, Latvia, to childhood immigration to America and emergence as an avant-garde artist, emphasizing experiences she claims unsettled Rothko and furthered his passage among cultures. Sometimes, though, she leaps over experiences such as his first marriage to a Jewish woman (barely mentioned) or the quarter-century spent teaching in a Jewish school, presumably because they do not fit her central theme.

Cohen-Solal focuses on the class...

 

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

Popular Right Now