Rothko Chapel
The Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas founded by John and Dominique de Menil. The interior serves not only as a chapel, but also as a major work of modern art. On its walls are fourteen black but color hued paintings by Mark Rothko. The shape of the building, an octagon inscribed in a Greek cross, and the design of the chapel was largely influenced by the artist. Susan J. Barnes states "The Rothko Chapel...became the world's first broadly ecumenical center, a holy place open to all religions and belonging to none. It became a center for international cultural, religious, and philosophical exchanges, for colloquia and performances. And it became a place of private prayer for individuals of all faiths" On September 16, 2000 the Rothko Chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1964 Rothko was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil (also founders of the nearby Menil Collection) to create a meditative space filled with his paintings. The works are site-specific, one of the requirements of the program. As Rothko was given creative license on the design of the structure, he clashed with the project's original architect, Philip Johnson over the plans for the chapel. The plans went through several revisions and architects. Rothko continued to work first with Howard Barnstone and then with Eugene Aubry, but ultimately he did not live to see the chapel's completion in 1971. After a long struggle with depression, Rothko committed suicide in his New York studio on February 25, 1970.

The chapel is an octagonal brick building with gray or rose stucco walls and a baffled skylight. It serves as a place of meditation as well as a meeting hall and is furnished with eight simple, moveable benches. Books from several religions are available. About 55,000 people visit the chapel each year.

Works of art
The chapel is associated with several works of art other than the building itself, in the fields of painting, sculpture, and music.

Fourteen of Rothko's paintings are displayed in the chapel. Three walls display triptychs, while the other five walls display single paintings. Beginning in 1964, Rothko began painting a series of black paintings, which incorporated other dark hues and texture effects. The de Menils offered Rothko a commission for the chapel in 1964. From the fall of 1964 through the spring of 1967, he painted the fourteen large paintings and four alternates, which incorporated many of the characteristics of the earlier 1964 black paintings.

A distinctive sculpture by Barnett Newman, Broken Obelisk , 1963”“1967, stands in front of the chapel. The sculpture sits in a reflecting pool designed by Philip Johnson and it is dedicated to the late Martin Luther King, Jr. The sculpture originally stood in Washington, D.C. and was offered in 1969 by the de Menils to the city of Houston as a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. to stand in front of City Hall. Houston turned down the gift and the de Menils then donated the sculpture and the Rothko paintings to start the Rothko Chapel.

One of Morton Feldman's best known pieces of music was inspired by and written to be performed in the chapel " it too is called Rothko Chapel (1971). The musician Peter Gabriel named one of his songs Fourteen Black Paintings after his experience in the chapel. Independent singer-songwriter David Dondero also has an ode to the site titled Rothko Chapel (2007).

Building Activity

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