Nomadic Night

David Levine Light Matter 7


Location: Fondation Cartier, view access map

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A performance by David Levine based on his essay Matter of Rothko.

Light Matter 7

A performance by David Levine based on his essay Matter of Rothko

Duration: approx. 45 minutes

"On February 25, 1970, my mother received a call from Oliver Steindecker, Mark Rothko’s studio assistant, informing her that Rothko had committed suicide and was lying on the floor of his studio in a pool of blood. So my mother took a taxi and helped identify the body. She was one month pregnant with me. Rothko had designated his three closest friends as executors of the estate: my father, Stamos (a fellow painter) and Bernard Reis (his accountant). Over the next three months, they sold or consigned all the paintings to the Marlborough Fine Art Gallery for next to nothing. In 1971, Rothko’s daughter decided to sue the executors for "conspiring to waste the assets of the estate." Within two years, my father had lost his job and his marriage. Within three years “The Matter of Rothko” had become the biggest scandal the New York art world had ever seen. Within five years my father was fined $6 million for his role in the affair, and within ten he was dead." David Levine

For the 30th issue of the online magazine Triple Canopy (July 2011), artist David Levine wrote Matter of Rothko, an essay on his father’s role in the inheritance scandal surrounding the painter Mark Rothko. "I’m going to break this down very simply and as nonlibelously as possible”, wrote David Levine who produced one of the most detailed journalistic accounts of the case in existence. The performance Light Matter 7 is based on this essay. Using legal documents, found slides and negatives and secretly recorded telephone calls, David Levine recounts a series of personal events and troubling coincidences, swirling around the publication of "Matter of Rothko" (named after the court case) and offers fresh insight into one of the most famous legal and artistic imbroglios of the 20th century.