If people want sacred experiences, they will find them here. 

If people want profane experiences, they will find them here.

I take no sides.

This is the first event of its kind in Austria for the American artist Mark Rothko. Both of Rothko’s children, Kate and Christopher were deeply involved in curating this exhibition, even kindly lending a number of paintings from the family collection to help tell the story of this abstract expressionist.

Rothko’s earliest paintings date from the mid-1920s and are definitely less well known. But let us begin with the obligatory Mr. and (First) Mrs. Selfies. There was no painting of the second Mrs. Rothko.

Two pieces from the early years I found particularly compelling. But although I was supposed to connect the “heavy silence and melancholy” with works by della Francesca or Giacometti,  my left brain just did not make that connection.

I way did not see both “the ancient and the modern” here, but I gave myself points for recognizing a hint of Juan Miro in this piece, which I would totally hang in my dining room.

There were a few bumps along the way (at least to me) before Rothko settled into his contemporary works. Like these two.

(Note to selfyou really, really should have saved the “art” the children made in Kindergarten.)

Then comes 1947. Rothko “eliminates all traces of the natural world in his works.”

This is the Rothko I have come to see. 

An entire gallery was devoted to The Seagram Murals, that were supposed to have hung in the Four Seasons Hotel, NYC.  In the end, the troubled artist decided that a luxury restaurant filled with wealthy patrons was not where he wanted his art to be seen, and renounced the commission.

More of the Rothko I like. All “Untitled” of course.

This piece would be so perfect in the dining room of my fantasy Cape Cod beachfront retirement house.

Leaving the Kunsthistorisches, a nod to my second-favorite Bruegel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent.

Whenever Tony and I visit this particular museum, we invariably end up at Brasserie Emile for lunch because the area is a bit of a restaurant wasteland and the brasserie is along our way home. But then Emile dropped Moules-frites from its menu and I have been bummed ever since, so we tend to struggle with a lunch destination.

On a lark I suggested we just sit at Burg Ring 1, one of many Austrian cafes tucked into the city and just steps from the museum. And guess what? We actually enjoyed it! It being a rainy and cool day I selected the Goulash, and was delighted by the crispy Servittenknödel–these carbohydrate bombs can be a bit on the dense side; and Tony ordered Tafelsptiz, proclaiming the dish much to his liking, as well.

The entertainment for our lunch was the water pitcher; as one poured, the pitcher emitted a, “Glub, Glub” sound, just like a fish. The pitchers were available for purchase, and now we are amused every time it is on the table at home.