Posted on 9th September 2011
In 1961 the Whitechapel Gallery held the first solo show of American artist Mark Rothko in Britain. This landmark exhibition is brought vividly to life through the Gallery’s archives of original photographs, letters from the artist and new recordings of visitors’ memories presented alongside Rothko’s painting Light Red Over Black (1957). Philip Jones Griffiths photographed the exhibition at one point, and the picture is published in his last book ‘Recollections‘, which is displayed in the reading room of the exhibition. PJG is most famous for his work covering the Vietnam war, and in particular his book ‘Vietnam Inc’ which proved pivotal in changing public opinion about the US presence in the country. His work in Britain in the preceding and following years was not so well known until his last book Recollections, which showed images spanning three decades from Welsh mining towns, to Liverpool in the 60s, the troubles in Northern Ireland, and CND marches in London. It also shows that PJG was involved in the arts scene, and photographed artists, musicians and poets including The Beatles, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Roger Mcgough and Adrian Henri and exhibitions at the Tate and Whitechapel galleries. The first Rothko exhibition in Britain at the Whitechapel was one of these he photographed and is in the book Recollections. Adjacent to the current exhibition ‘Rothko in Britain’ at the Whitechapel the book is displayed in the reading room, and accompanies other photographs and letters archived and presented by the Whitechapel.