Everything Rothko did to these paintings, the column-like forms suggested rather than drawn, the loose stainings, were all meant to make the surface ambiguous. Porous. Perhaps softly penetrable. A space that might be where we came from, or where we will end up. They’re meant not to keep us out, but to embrace. From an artist whose highest compliment was to call you a human being. Can anything be less cool than this room in the heart of Tate Modern? Further away from the razzle dazzle of contemporary art, the frantic hustle of now. This isn’t about now, this is about forever. This is a place where you come to sit in the low light and feel the aeons rolling by, to be taken towards the gates that open onto the thresholds of eternity, to feel the poignancy of our comings and our goings, our entrances and our exits, our births and our deaths. Womb, tomb and everything between. Can art ever be more complete, more powerful? I don’t think so.
—Simon Schama on Mark Rothko’s Seagram Murals