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Rothko before Rothko at Arkansas Arts Center 

Also, at Crystal Bridges: Fisk collection.

ROTHKO 'UNTITLED': In "Mark Rothko in the 1940s: The Decisive Decade" exhibit at the Arts Center starting in October.
  • ROTHKO 'UNTITLED': In "Mark Rothko in the 1940s: The Decisive Decade" exhibit at the Arts Center starting in October.

Two extraordinary exhibits will be in Arkansas this fall, which, happily, is something we've come to expect. Think of these two names: Mark Rothko. Georgia O'Keeffe.

"Mark Rothko in the 1940s: The Decisive Decade" opens at the Arkansas Arts Center Oct. 25, and in the preface to the book about the show, the writer explains that the exhibition of the work of the famed abstract expressionist in the 1940s shows Rothko's maturation from the figurative to the luminous color blocks he is most famous for. That writer is none other than Todd Herman, the Arts Center's executive director, who was chief curator and organizer of the exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina, where the exhibition debuted in September 2012. Herman was able to include an unpublished monograph about art by Rothko himself in the book; the exhibit allows a comparison of Rothko's paintings, drawings and watercolors to his words. The exhibition — some 40 pieces — includes work in which he references mythology, and then moves from an emphasis on the drawing to an emphasis on color. Also in the exhibition are works by Rothko contemporaries Jackson Pollock, Adolph Gottlieb and Clyfford Still. The works are on loan from the National Gallery in Washington.

Also on view along with Rothko: "Face to Face: Artists' Self-Portraits from the collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr." and "Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge." Rothko, who took his own life, will be the subject of a lecture, "Rothko's Dilemma: Beauty and Tragedy," to be given by Dr. Bradford Collins, University of South Carolina associate professor of art history, at 6 p.m. Oct. 24. A member reception will follow. Non-members may attend the lecture and reception for $15. On Oct. 26, artist Catherine Rodgers will lead a workshop, "Paint Like Rothko — Color: Complement, Shade, Tone and Tint," from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; fee is $92 for members and $115 for non-members. More information on the workshop and a teacher academy set for Oct. 5 can be found on the Arts Center's website, arkansasartscenter.org, or by calling 372-4000. The show runs through Feb. 9 in the Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, whose attempt to share, for $30 million, the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at the Fisk Museum sparked years of litigation and was finally successful, will show works from the Fisk starting Nov. 9. The show will include O'Keeffe's wonderful "Radiator Building — Night, New York, 1927," which should bring art lovers from all over to Bentonville. There are 101 pieces in the Stieglitz collection, donated to Fisk by Georgia O'Keeffe, the photographer's wife; artists represented include French artists like Paul Cezanne. Paul Signac, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre-Auguste Renoir as well as Americans Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Alfred Maurer and, of course, Stieglitz and O'Keeffe.

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