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Academic & writer

Mark Rothko

Institut Français, République de Corée –
Conférence d’Annie Cohen-Solal, Professeur et écrivain, à Ewha Womans university
“Mark Rothko ou le « sublime abstrait » : la trajectoire d’un pionnier de l’art contemporain dans le new york de l’apres-guerre.”


Institut Français, République de Corée –
Conférence d’Annie Cohen-Solal, Professeur et écrivain, à Yonsei university
“Mark Rothko, l’artiste qui voulait reparer le monde : comment le migrant juif est-il devenu le representant de l’art moderne americain?”Affiche-Yonsei.FR_-fixed


The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
March 11, 2015.

BOOK REVIEW – Mark Rothko: toward the light in the chapel
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 | By Philip Kopper
“Jackson Pollock didn’t begin his meteoric career by dripping house paint on tarpaulins any more than Piet Mondrian started out painting white and colored spaces within black boundaries. They had to discover their abstract genres after years of making realistic pictures and learning from there. Finding one’s way to artistic originality and greatness was typically a journey with a cryptic destination, a trial with fickle jurors, coin-toss verdicts and a hanging judge.”

Annie Cohen-Solal’s ‘Mark Rothko’ traces the tensions underlying the emergence of a modern master
30 April 2015 | By Earl Pike, Special to The Plain Dealer
“Cohen-Solal’s work is well-written and well-argued, and will be of interest to anyone concerned with Rothko, modern art, American intellectual history or the politics and processes of Jewish identity and assimilation.”

The New Yorker
Mark Rothko
13 April 2015 | Annie Cohen-Solal
This compact study places Rothko’s development within the context of the evolution of American art in the mid-twentieth century. Rothko, a brilliant Russian émigré, won a scholarship to Yale only to have it revoked by the university’s increasingly anti-Semitic administration. He turned to painting, hoping to create art that would be “primarily moral” and also “tragic and timeless,” standing apart from convention and institutions. Yet for decades he remained firmly within the Western European tradition, producing lacklustre examples of figurative painting and surrealism. The breakthrough came in 1948, with “No. 1.” Cohen-Solal subtly demonstrates the link between Rothko’s three outsider statuses (artist, immigrant, and Jew), his color-block canvases, and his essential Americanness.

Repairing the World: The Road to The Rothko Chapel
by Bob Duggan.
Of the many concepts of Judaism artist Mark Rothko took to heart, the idea of tikkun olam, Hebrew for “repairing the world,” penetrated the deepest. In Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, academic and a cultural historian Annie Cohen-Solal cuts to the heart of Rothko’s life and art and sheds new light on how both seemingly had to end at The Rothko Chapel (shown above), the Houston home of Rothko’s final works that he tragically didn’t live long enough to see himself. In this tightly focused new biography, Cohen-Solal shows us both how The Rothko Chapel culminates Rothko’s life-long mission to repair his world and how it continues to serve as a light of hope in our darkening world.

Interview with Charlie Rose
April 07, 2015.

Times Higher Education
Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, by Annie Cohen-Solal
2 April 2015 | By Tracey Warr
A sense of not belonging coloured an outsider’s journey to the avant-garde, learns Tracey Warr
From the sorrow wrought by prejudice to envy to malice, the strong emotions that coloured Mark Rothko’s life matched the depth and richness of his paintings. Annie Cohen-Solal’s engrossing biography follows “the difficult identity journey” of “the avant-garde painter [and] the avant-garde Jew”, re-examining his work in the historical contexts of both the pogroms in turn-of-the-century Russia and the golden age of capitalism in the US after the Second World War. In a valuable, detailed account of his life, as well as a vivid portrait of early 20th-century Europe and America, Cohen-Solal convincingly argues that migration and exile influenced Rothko’s pioneering abstract expressionist art.

Exploring Mark Rothko with Annie Cohen-Solal, in conversation with Peter Selz
Robert Fulford | March 31, 2015 |
Rothko biography traces the artist’s spiritual values back to his Jewish childhood
In the 1950s, Mark Rothko accepted a handsome commission, a series of murals for the Four Seasons restaurant in the new Seagram building on Park Avenue. He worked for eight months on his plan for the paintings and then visited the finished building to see where his work would hang. He hated the restaurant for its pretension. “A place where the richest bastards in New York will come to feed and show off,” he said.

Midday with Dan Rodricks: Mon. Mar. 12-1 PM


About the book


U.S. Lecture Tour


3/11, New York / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

3/12, Washington / The Phillips Collection

3/14, Dallas / Dallas Museum of Art

3/16, Palm Beach / The Society of the Four Arts

3/18, San Francisco / Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

3/19, Los Angeles / Skirball Cultural Center

3/24, Baltimore / The Art Seminar Group

3/25, Boston / New Center for Arts and culture

3/26, New York / Albertine Books

4/1, Paris / American Library in Paris

4/24, Stanford /Anderson Collection at Standford University

9/12, Martha’s Vineyard / The Chilmark Library

9/17, Scranton, PA University of Scranton /The Schemel Forum

9/19, Houston / Museum of Fine Arts


Contacts : Liz Pelton, 410-467-0989,

Contacts   : Victoria Meyer, 212-242-0866,