Six Painters: Mondrian, Guston, Kline, De Kooning, Pollock, Rothko

This group exhibition featured the work of Dutch modernist Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) alongside New York School artists Philip Guston (1913–1980), Franz Kline (1910–1962), Willem de Kooning (1904–1997), Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), and Rothko. The show was curated by influential composer Morton Feldman (1926–1987), who had become close to a number of artists through The Club on Eighth Street. Following a score for Hans Namuth’s 1951 documentary on Jackson Pollock, Feldman composed pieces dedicated to Kline, de Kooning, and Guston. Rothko, also a friend of Feldman’s, lent works from his own collection to the exhibition, including a mid-1940s watercolor shown with the generic title Composition. Rothko was also represented by eight canvases, including Astral Image (Menil Collection, 1946), The Green Stripe (Menil Collection, 1955), and six works of the early 1960s. The show was presented at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic university that was originally slated to be the recipient of Rothko’s sequence of murals commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in 1964. Eventually the fourteen murals became the core of the Rothko Chapel, a non-denominational space sponsored by the Menils in Houston, Texas, which was dedicated in 1971, the year following Rothko’s death. Feldman’s composition Rothko Chapel, written after attending the opening, is one of his most celebrated works.