In the early 1960s, the artist Pat Steir met her hero, Mark Rothko, at a dinner party in Cape Cod. She was in her 20s, and she went up to him and said, “Mr. Rothko, I love your work.” He said, “You’re a pretty girl. Why aren’t you married?” Steir did not take it badly, because Rothko reminded her of her father. But she was disappointed. “I was hoping to discuss color theory with him.” Color theory, of course, is at the center of Steir’s practice. She likens its tonal modulations to the writing of music. In this exhibition she returns to Rothko with 13 paintings that draw from his work—his “music.” He was, she says, “an extraordinary color theorist.” —L.J.
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