Mark Rothko, American, Untitled, 1954, Oil on canvas; 238.1 x 143.2 x 4.5 cm (93 3/4 x 56 3/8 x 1 3/4 inches), Museum purchase in honor of Daniel Robbins: The Chace Fund, The Collectors’ Acquisition Fund, Georgianna Sayles Aldrich Fund, Mary B. Jackson Fund, Walter H. Kimball Fund, Jesse Metcalf Fund, Museum Gift Fund, and gifts of Mrs. George Harding, Mrs. Lewis Madeira, Mrs. Malcolm Farmer, Mrs. Frank Mauran, George H. Waterman III, Mrs. Murray S. Danforth, Mrs. Russell Field, Mrs. Albert Pilavin, Mr. and Mrs. Bayard Ewing, Mr. and Mrs. Tracy Barnes, Mr. and Mrs. William Boardman, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Neub 71.091
During the late 1940s, Mark Rothko began to make paintings composed of abstract fields of color. He used delicate brushstrokes to layer his paint while also blotting and staining the canvas to build up expanses of atmospheric color. In the Museum’s untitled painting, soft-edged rectangles seem to dissipate, glow, and hover over a deeply saturated red canvas. The lack of hard edges or lines in Rothko’s paintings and his profound concern with the spiritual, symbolic qualities of color distinguish his works from those of his contemporaries, such as Ad Reinhardt and Josef Albers, who focused on exploring color’s optical properties.