At Religion & Ethics weekly, David E. Anderson examines Mark Rothko’s theological legacy:

The poet Stanley Kunitz once told artist Mark Rothko he was “the last rabbi in Western art.”

Critic Robert Hughes described Rothko as belonging to the “theological” wing of the New York School of abstract artists in mid-twentieth-century America, while the headline of a New York Times review by Hilton Kramer of a major Rothko retrospective in 1978 read “Rothko: Art as Religious Faith.”

As curator and editor Glenn Phillips notes in Seeing Rothko, a collection of essays on the artist and the act of seeing, “Rothko’s work has variously been described as transcendental, tragic, mystical, violent, or serene; as representative of the void; as opening onto the experience of the sublime; as exhilaratingly intellectual; or as profoundly spiritual—to mention just a few examples.”