About This Artwork

Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkowitz)
American, born Russia (Latvia), 1903–1970

Untitled (Painting), 1953/54

Oil on canvas
265.1 x 298.1 cm (104 3/8 x 117 3/8 in.), unframed
Not inscribed on recto; signed and dated: verso: "Mark Rothko / 1954" (center left in orange paint)

Friends of American Art Collection, 1954.1308

© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Describing his art as the “elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, between the idea and the observer,” Mark Rothko was one of the leading proponents of color field painting, a type of non-gestural Abstract Expressionism that entailed large canvases distinguished by monumental expanses of form and tone. In his mature paintings, which he began in 1949, in place of overt symbolism, color and surface luminosity are meant to encourage an emotive, profound response from the viewer. This radiant canvas burns with subtle variations of orange and yellow hues, which glow and undulate as light, atmosphere, and space.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Publication History

“Annual Report 1954–1955” (Art Institute of Chicago, 1955), n.pag., as “Untitled.”

“Recent Additions to the Twentieth Century Collection,” “The Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly” 49, 2 (April 1, 1955), pp. 23–24, as “Untitled.”

“Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago” (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 404.

“Instituto de Arte de Chicago,” El mundo de los museos (Madrid: Editorial Codex, 1967), pp. 15 (ill.), 79 (color ill.).

James N. Wood, “Treasures of 19th- and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago” (Abbeville Press, 1993), p. 305 (color ill.).

David Anfam, “Mark Rothko, The Works on Canvas: A Catalogue Raisonné” (National Gallery of Art/Yale University Press, 1998), cat. 500 (color ill.).

Miguel López-Remiro, “Mark Rothko: Writings on Art” (Yale University Press, 2006), pp. 104–07.

Ownership History

Sold by the artist, New York, to the Art Institute, 1954.

View mobile website