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9

FRIDAY

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Newman with his zips, Kline with his enormous gestures, Pollock with his centrifugal frenzy: Of all the abstract-expressionist painters, none are as affecting as Mark Rothko. The painter’s large canvases bypass the intellect entirely, their stacked fields of color—some bright, others as dark as the depression that led to his suicide in 1970—ending in blurs that envelop the viewer in a contemplative visual space. Mark Rothko, 1903-1970: An Abstract Humanist, a new film by Isy Morgensztern, uses fuzzy cinematography, a hushed soundtrack, and unhurried pacing to nail the right aesthetic notes for its subject. Yet, beyond the intriguing tidbit that the artist was nearsighted, the film does little to clarify what meaning Rothko intended for his canvases—perhaps a fitting result for an artist so enigmatic. Morgensztern leads a discussion following the screening at 12:30 p.m. (see Showtimes for other dates) in the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Louis Jacobson)