Friday, January 23, 2009
Just three days after the inauguration of Obama it seems fitting to write about Rothko’s first marriage to Edith Sachar, which happened just three days after Roosevelt was elected. Three days is not a long time, but it feels like a long time coming.
Between Roosevelt’s election and his inauguration were the worst four months of the depression, the “winter of despair” they called it. Rothko’s economic situation was, according to Edith “horrendous”. She had sworn not to marry anyone idealistic, fearing that you could not live on “air”, but she wrote in a letter to him “you consume me body and soul with your love.” What’s a girl to do?
So they married, and ate bean soup, and couldn’t find any art collectors. Rothko, she said, never wanted more than he had, and only because of his ambition did the fall of the art market get him down.
Much later Dar Williams, who was a poet like Edith, wrote a song about Rothko. She sings in a sad sweet high voice:
He had so much to say but more to show, and ain’t that true of life?
So we weep for a person who lived at great cost
Yet we barely knew his powers till we sensed that we had lost
Maybe so. I don’t know enough about Rothko, or Edith. I know they had something worth living for, and much later, he would slit his wrist because whatever that was wasn’t anymore. Even when they had nothing but bean soup they had something.