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In The Outskirts of Tokyo, Find Seven Of The Famed Artist's Seagram Murals

March, 2023
© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / ARS, New York / JASPAR, Tokyo G3055

Whilst it is quite some distance to get to the unassuming Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art located an hour by train outside of central Tokyo, it is well worth the journey.

Not only housing an excellent permanent art collection, expansive garden and world-class touring exhibitions, the museum also holds seven of American artist Mark Rothko’s famed Seagram Murals within a custom-designed room and permanent exhibition space titled The Rothko Room. Quite the surprising discovery in an unassuming museum outside of Tokyo, timelessly existing there since 2008.

Positioned at the end of a long hallway within the museum, find custom-built Rothko Room. The room’s architecture was designed by architect Koh Nemoto. The large, reddish brown Murals are all-encompassing within the proportions of the enclosed space. Located central to the unequal heptagonal room is a couch for viewers in a tone harmonious with the wood floor and the shape of the space. The soft light emerging from the edges of the white panels on the ceiling and are the only source of lightning for the seven paintings.

The Seagram Murals were Rothko’s first commission for a mural series and were meant to realise his desire to fill an entire room with only his own paintings. Originally only intended to be hung in a dining room in a New York restaurant, the project never came to fruition, after a lapse of several decades, were eventually brought to Japan.

The Rothko Room within the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art is a true unsuspecting artistic gem — a transcendent, fully encompassing viewing experience in which the art and architecture combine to form one unified space.

© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / ARS, New York / JASPAR, Tokyo G3055
Sketch for Rothko Room by Koh Nemoto, 2005 To allow for the most intimate viewing experience, each Mural is mounted on its own wall, thus the space takes the shape of an irregular heptagon.
Mark Rothko’s studio in New York at 222 Bowery, 1960 (Photograph by Herbert Matter: Courtesy of Staley-Wise Gallery, NY) Without much light, the floor of this converted gymnasium was said to be completely dark.

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art
Sakura, Chiba, Japan

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March, 2023