Video: A Conversation with Rothko Chapel Executive Director David Leslie

by Michael Flanagan March 16, 2024

This is the third entry in Glasstire’s series featuring extended interviews from the making of Michael Flanagan’s Breaking the Code, his 2023 documentary film on artist Vernon Fisher. This conversation with Rothko Chapel Executive Director David Leslie was recorded in 2021 inside the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas.

In the interview, Leslie discusses the correlation between Rothko’s color field paintings and Fisher’s early series of pulsating circular abstractions.

Titled 1.0080, after the atomic weight of hydrogen, Fisher originally created the series during the 1960s in an attempt to paint “those primary, singular energy sources that lie beneath the skin of everyday living.” Leslie’s family has serendipitously owned one of Fisher’s 1.0080 paintings since the two were acquaintances during the artist’s teaching stint at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, during the 1970s. Here, Leslie posits that both Fisher and Rothko invite the viewer to “meditate upon and think about” themes of meaning and mythology in a way that creates a conversation between the artist and viewer.

Breaking the Code will screen in the Lynn Wyatt Theatre at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston at 2 p.m. on March 17, 2024. After the film, the audience is invited to stay for a panel discussion with filmmaker Michael Flanagan and MFAH curator Alison de Lima Greene.

Visit for more information on streaming and upcoming screenings.

Video Credits:
Produced and Edited by Michael Flanagan
Camera by Carlos Estrada
Sound by Michael Flanagan

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