Watch Sister Wendy, Nun and an Art Expert, Comment on Mark Rothko

Zuzanna Stańska 25 September 2023 min Read

Sister Wendy was an extraordinary figure, known for her unique blend of spirituality and art expertise. A British hermit, art historian, and a consecrated virgin, she gained international recognition in the 1990s through her captivating BBC documentaries on art history. Programs like “Sister Wendy’s Odyssey” and “Sister Wendy’s Grand Tour” resonated with audiences, drawing an impressive 25 percent share of British viewers.

In 1997, Sister Wendy made her debut on U.S. public television, and The New York Times hailed her as an unlikely but immensely famous art critic in the realm of television. Her eloquent and relatable commentary democratized art appreciation, inspiring countless art enthusiasts worldwide. Turns out Sister Wendy was especially fond of Mark Rothko and his paintings. Below, you can explore Sister Wendy’s insightful remarks on Mark Rothko (and Pop Art).


“I’m not afraid you won’t think this Mark Rothko beautiful, but what I am afraid, a little, somebody might think it’s just beautiful. Lovely colors. No meaning. But meaning is what he was all about, and he would have been furiously angry if anyone thought that, and told you so in suitably salty language. It was the subject matter that mattered most to him. And the subject matter was the emotions. Not small, personal emotions up today, down tomorrow, but the great timeless emotions. How we feel about death, courage, and ecstasy. He was convinced that if you would just encounter his paintings, that emotion would be communicated to you with absolute clarity. So to achieve this he painted very large. Because in a small painting – big you, little painting – you can control it. But with a large painting, it controls you. You’re taken into it.” … ” If you can think of a religious painting without religion, this is what you experience here. It’s so timeless, that when I’ve had this encounter, I feel to return to the world of time, I have to shake my head and bring myself down to earth again.

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