L E   F I F A
L E   F I F A
Mark Rothko, la peinture vous regarde

North American Premiere

Mark Rothko, la peinture vous regarde

Pascale Bouhénic

France | 2023 | 52 min
French |
Subtitles: English
Jouer Trailer
As the first retrospective dedicated to American painter Mark Rothko in France in 24 years is currently on display at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, this film traces the elusive trajectory of a 20th-century art legend. Full of colors, sensuality, dramas, and emotions, Rothko’s painting shines forth in a subtle portrait of the American master of abstract expressionism.

Word of direction

In December 2017, I had the very exceptional opportunity to go film in the United States at the Houston chapel, designed with the black panels of Mark Rothko. The American painter (born in Russia in 1903, and died in the United States in 1970) signed there, in 1964, one of his last works, terribly impressive. The challenge of filming black, and of accounting for a painting that constantly evolves in perception, was an experience as a spectator, as much as a reflection on how to film these paintings. In this film, dedicated to Monet’s Water Lilies, the aim was to take a leap towards the Americans to highlight Monet’s legacy in America. These Rothko panels, which, like the Water Lilies, create a space, have deeply impressed my retina. Now that I am delving more directly into Rothko’s work, I understand that in this chapel are established the conditions of vision that the painter wished exactly for his paintings. And that the chapel is the culmination of Mark Rothko’s art.

From Rothko’s life, we can see with great clarity the dialogue between the grand and the small history. American politics, the consequences of the Second World War, the extermination of the Jews, which had such a crucial impact on Rothko, are there; the abstract expressionists, the surrealists of Europe, the American provincialists” also play a role. In this intertwining, the origins of the Russian Rothko (Rothkowitz) are impossible to unravel.

According to the testimonies of his close friends, the memory of his country of birth, and his link to Judaism, never faded from his memory. Rothko’s history is made of this constant dialogue between personal data, and the artistic and political history of the adopted country, America. Tradition and modernity are inseparable.

Moreover, Rothko joined a group of artists who made American modernity, but at the same time, on several occasions, he detached himself from it. Rothko’s position is unique: he is a philosopher painter, who believes that painting conveys ideas, but these ideas are not expressed only with figures or symbols (which he could represent in his youth), they emanate in abstract painting through the material dimension of his painting. So we can see Rothko as a kind of chemist, or pharmacist like his father was: the colored paste must produce an effect. Therefore, one must always return to the material because it is what allows the invention of the world of ideas. Paintings are a place to stand, a place to think. And Rothko makes this incredible proposition in history: once the painting is finished, it must enter a world that must be able to accommodate it. That is the responsibility of the artist. And the life of the artist Rothko is played out there.

- Pascale Bouhénic
Also presented:
Fondation Louis Vuitton, France (2023)
Director Pascale Bouhénic
Mentor in the direction Lea Torreadrado
Production Judith Matheron, Florent Péridont
documentalist Marie-Hélène Barberis
Editing Anouk Zivy
Sound editing Laurent Herniaux
Calibrating Eric Salleron
Sound Laurent Herniaux, Michel Kaptur
Sound mixing Laurent Herniaux
Cinematography Raphaël O’Byrne
Graphic Creation Julian Bouhénic
Music Benjamin Pras

In Partnership with


• Musée McCord Stewart
Saturday, march 16, 2024, 08:00 p.m. — 09:15 p.m.
• Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec - Auditorium Sandra et Alain Bouchard du Pavillon Pierre Lassonde
Wednesday, march 20, 2024, 01:30 p.m. — 03:30 p.m.


Pascale Bouhénic

Pascale Bouhénic

Pascale Bouhénic is a specialist in art films, particularly of the 19th and 20th centuries, for which she always proposes highly modern interpretations, she is notably the director for Arte of Gustave Doré, de l’illustrateur à l’artiste; Jean de La Fontaine, l’homme qui aimait les Fables; Chercheurs d’orgues, (90′) about organ music and European languages. For France 5, she produced Guillaume Apollinaire, l’élan créateur and Le dernier Monet, les Nymphéas et l’Amérique. She has also produced a series of documentaries (14 films) with leading contemporary art historians (Un œil, une histoire). Also a writer, her books are published by Gallimard.

Biographical notes provided by the film production team
Selected films:
Chercheurs d’orgue (2022)
Jean de la Fontaine, L’homme qui aimait les fables (2021)
James Tissot, L’étoffe d’un peintre (2020)
Le Dernier Monet, Les Nymphéas et l’Amérique (2017)
Guillaume Apollinaire, L’élan créateur (2016)

In the same sessions

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec - Auditorium Sandra et Alain Bouchard du Pavillon Pierre Lassonde

Wednesday, march 20, 2024, 01:30 p.m.

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