Romance in the Rothko Room

Catherine and Brian engagement 2_Photo Mark Armstrong

Brian popped the question to Catherine in the Phillips’s Rothko Room…and she said “Yes!”

Congratulations to Brian and Catherine, who got engaged in the Phillips’s Rothko Room earlier this month! We asked the couple to share their story and why the Rothko Room holds special meaning for them:

“When I started thinking about proposing to Catherine, I knew that I wanted to incorporate art into the proposal. Catherine moved to DC to study art history and to have the opportunity to intern in the district’s numerous art collections and museums. While in graduate school and while we were dating, one of these internships was with The Phillips Collection. During this time, it became apparent how much the collection meant to her, specifically the Rothko Room. She had prints of the four pieces that hang in the Rothko Room on the walls of her apartment and, as a result, they were witness to a large portion of our relationship. With this in mind, I thought it would be special to share our big moment in front of the real paintings, in a collection that she loves.

The passion that Catherine puts into her everyday life is one of the many things that first attracted me to her. One of her avenues to express this passion is through her love for and pursuit of art history. With this in mind, the Rothko Room at the Phillips seemed like the perfect place to solidify the passion in our relationship and begin our life together.” —Brian Rasmussen

Catherine and Brian engagement 3_Photo Mark Armstrong

Brian invited family to celebrate the new engagement

“I was completely shocked when I walked into the Rothko Room and saw Brian standing in the corner. This room has always been my favorite spot in DC and I can’t think of a more perfect place to share such a special moment. After a lot of tears and pictures, the surprises continued down in the café where our families and friends from out of town were waiting with champagne and donuts (my favorite!). Brian truly planned the perfect proposal and I can’t wait to visit the Rothko Room for the years to come with my soon to be husband!” —Catherine West

Do you have a Phillips love story? Send it to us at communications@phillipscollection.org.

Catherine and Brian engagement 1_Photo Mark Armstrong

Congratulations to these lovebirds!

ArtGrams: The Rothko Room

Welcome to the first of our newest monthly blog series, ArtGrams, where we feature our favorite Instagrammed pictures taken around or inspired by the museum. We love seeing you create your own works of art using unique perspectives, strategic crops, and the funkiest filters.

Each month, we’ll feature a different theme based on trends we’ve seen in visitor photos; first up, The Rothko Room. The room’s bold colors and shapes have inspired these great shots. Be sure to hashtag your images with #PhillipsCollection or tag your location for a chance to be featured.

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Via Instagrammer @allwegrow: “We spent our 3 year anniversary visiting the Rothko Room”

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via Instagrammer @jamellita: “American Living: ‘Luna and me in Rothko’s room'”

Rothko Room_3_mrscis

Via Instagrammer @mrscis: “Admiring the beauties of the centuries”

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Via Instagrammer @pennykim

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Via Instagrammer @pootie_ting: “Feeling Red. Rothko Red.”

 

 

Other-Worldliness: The Rothko Room, Laib Wax Room…and Japanese Tea Rooms

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The Rothko Room, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo: Ben Resine

Intimate relationships with artworks invite us into the artist’s world, in which we are all equal.

As intimacy is essential for communication in human society, this experience is also very important for communicating and connecting with modern art; it is the intimate relationship between art appreciators and the artworks themselves that encourages viewers to think about the concepts and philosophy behind a piece.

In The Phillips Collection, a personal connection with the art is provoked by the special environment—intimate, immersive rooms. The museum also has two permanent installations which are significantly smaller than other galleries—the Rothko Room and the Laib Wax Room. Because these installations are set apart from the rest of the galleries—rooms entirely designed or created by the artists themselves—they evoke a unique sense of other-worldliness. Upon stepping inside, we feel the artworks and the artists with all of our senses, as if we know them very well, regardless of how much we know about the artists’ lives. This experience allows us to feel as if we are isolated from the real world and invited to the world of the artists.

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The Laib Wax Room. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

As a native of Japan, I find the experience of the Rothko Room and Laib Wax Room similar to that of a Japanese traditional small tea room. While not all Japanese tea rooms are small, some are deliberately so, for other-worldliness is the basic concept of the design. Additionally, it is interesting to note that the rooms are small in order to make people confront the tea, the teamaker, and the ritual behind creating and drinking it. The smallness of the rooms creates an intimate relationship between people and their tea.

There are also similarities in atmosphere. When a tea ceremony takes place in the small tea rooms, tension floats among the participants, which gives the ceremony a ritualistic feeling. This distinctive atmosphere can be also experienced in the Rothko Room and the Laib Wax Room by virtue of the closeness and the visual perception of the environments, which remind me of churches or the tombs of ancient Egypt. The solemn atmosphere often makes me both interested and hesitant to enter. My footsteps slowed as I entered these rooms—I would describe the experience as a feeling of awe.

However, there is a difference between the Rothko and Laib Wax Rooms and Japanese tea rooms; the size of the entrances. Doorways into tea rooms are so small that most people need to stoop down to get in, requiring each person to bend his or her head as if bowing. As you may know, the act of bowing is the traditional Japanese way of showing respect. Performing this act upon entering shows that social class is not valid in the tea ceremony; everyone enters as equals. Although the entrances of the Rothko and Laib Wax Rooms are of normal size, the same idea can be applied. Social status has no use in these artists’ worlds, as we are isolated from the real world.

Aya Takagi, Curatorial and Center for the Study of Modern Art Intern