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Painting and Patronage: David Novros at the Rothko Chapel

“Marden, Novros, Rothko: Painting in the Age of Actuality,” installation view showing room #1 and room #2 at the Rice Museum, Rice University, 1975. Menil Archives, The Menil Collection, Houston. Photo: Hickey-Robertson

In 1975, American artists David Novros and Brice Marden exhibited four paintings at Rice University commissioned by the Rothko Chapel in Marden, Novros, Rothko: Painting in the Age of Actuality. In celebration of the historic show and on the occasion of the Chapel's 40th anniversary, a lecture series was held. "The Rothko Chapel and the Transformative Power of Art" featured David Novros and Brice Marden discussing the power of painting and its patronage and the influence of Mark Rothko on both their practices.

Featured here, Novros speaks about the public dimensions of creating major commissions like the murals in the Rothko Chapel and the importance of patronage. In 2006 Novros told interviewer Phong Bui, “I learned a lot from seeing the way [Rothko’s] work was treated by “patrons.” Only the de Menils understood what he was after. I think that the pain one has to endure to get anything profound made in a public place makes the activity a form of masochism. Those artists who continue to pursue that ambition are a form of endangered species.”