Rothko, Bellows, and Johns

To celebrate Diane’s birthday, father’s day ,and my birthday, Diane, Carly, Joshua,(wife and children) with Jen and Scott (their sweethearts) spent the day in Washington, DC. Our plans included visits to the National Gallery of Art, The Phillips Collection, and Jaleo’s restaurant.

The National has just acquired three of Mark Rothko’s paintings commission by the Seagram’s Co to be displayed in a New York City restaurant

These paintings are of particular interest to us after seeing the broadway play “Red,”  which is about Rothko and the Seagrams’s commission. Seeing the play and loving Rothko’s work upped the anticipation.  The paintings lived up to our very high expectations.

Good fortune allowed us to see the unscheduled early opening of a major George Bellows show  at the National Gallery.

I think George Bellows is one of the best painters of light and mood of the  American regionalist period. Of particular interest and delight for me is the buttery application of paint he used in his early works and his simplification of form that edges up to abstraction. Oddly, his later works evolved toward a more illustrative, tight style, losing that lush freedom that I love.

The highlight of the day was the extensive exhibition of the works of Jasper Johns at the Phillips Collection. Wow, what a show! Johns is famous for saying that art is the result of “Do something, do something to that, and then do something to that.”Read more at

This show features exactly the philosophy stated in his quote. .

Art is my life and seeing great art is always inspiring and motivating. I must admit however that the best part of the day was having the chance to share it with the people who are most precious in my life.
When eye weary and leg weak we ajourned to Jaleo’s for great food, drink, and conversation.  There were many different points of view about the art ,but unanimity in the belief that we were having a very special day.
On Wednesday we leave for Maine.  I look forward to the chance to visit with many long time friends who are all dedicated to making art that is unique and personal – just like Rothko, Bellows, and Johns.

cartoon from Chuckle Bros,


  • Charlotte Galper

    Jun 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm Reply

    I enjoyed the comments about George Bellows work and appreciate his painting even more and like, so much, the content of this blog. Also enjoyed Jasper Johns’ quotes. But watching the video showing Jasper Johns’ work with commentary leaves me puzzled about his contribution. Can anyone explain?

  • Judy

    Jul 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm Reply

    The Bellows’ show is coming to the Met when it leaves the National Gallery for those of us who live “up North”.

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