Dispatches

December 10th, 2014 | 9:30am

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Matthew Herndon

We are standing in front of Mark Rothko’s Black, Red Over Black on Red at the Centre Pompidou.

“I love Rothko,” says my companion. “I am not crazy about modern American art, but Rothko is different.” A painter himself, my companion is a talkative man behind whose frail body and white hair is an energetic, sometimes erratic mind. “Look,” he says, as he moves closer to the painting, the guard keeping a polite watch over us. “The way he has layered the painting—as if he were breathing it.” 


He walks a little back, but I stay close to Rothko, only a hair’s breath of politeness, as it were, separating me from the painter’s labors: how Rothko has given a home to breath itself in...