The Art Of Mark Lamos

 Mark Lamos at the Whitney. Photo by Christopher Setter

Mark Lamos at the Whitney. Photo by Christopher Setter

Mark Lamos stares at an abstract sculptural work by Willem de Kooninghanging on the wall at the Whitney Museum in New York City. The room is filled with streams of visitors, but Lamos could have been alone in a zen monastery in the quiet way he considers the piece, gazing into it as if in search of its soul — or his.

“I’m very happy when I'm looking at a piece that I can't begin to understand,” he says, gesturing to the wildly colorful work practically bursting from the wall. “I really don’t want to intellectualize it or pigeonhole it. I’m just experiencing it. I just like to have it play around in my head. I just love that.”

Art is on Lamos’ mind these days, and a trip to the Whitney is inspirational for his next projects. He will be staging two Tony Award-winning plays about art and artists in repertory in May at the Westport Country Playhouse, where he has been artistic director since 2009. The first is John Logan’s “Red,” which played Broadway in 2010, about abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. The second is Yasmina Reza’s “Art,” which played Broadway in 1998, about the purchase of an expensive, nearly all-white painting and how it affects the friendship of three men.

Both plays speak to each other, says Lamos during an afternoon of abstract-art appreciation. “One play is about owning art, the price of art, what it costs spiritually, as well as from your wallet, and how your aesthetic choices define you.”

The other, he says, is from the artist’s point of view “but he’s also thinking about art as how it would be perceived,” Lamos says. “Both plays have a lot to do with thinking about art in a very personal way.

 Photo by Christopher Setter

Photo by Christopher Setter