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Untitled (Painting)

A work made of oil on canvas.
© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




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

About this artwork

Known for an impassioned form of painting predicated on the poetics of color, Mark Rothko was one of the leading proponents of color-field painting, a type of nongestural Abstract Expressionism that entailed large canvases distinguished by monumental expanses of form and tone. The canvas of Untitled (Painting) burns with subtle variations of orange and yellow hues. The painting follows the characteristic format of Rothko’s mature work, according to which stacked rectangles of color appear to float within the boundaries of the canvas. By directly staining the fabric of the canvas with many thin washes of pigment and by paying particular attention to the edges where the fields interact, he achieved the effect of light radiating from the image itself. This technique suited his metaphysical aims: to offer painting as a doorway into purely spiritual realms, making it as immaterial and evocative as music, and to communicate directly the most essential, rawest forms of human emotion. Rothko described his art as the “elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, between the idea and the observer.” In place of overt symbolism, he used color, overwhelming scale, and surface luminosity to elicit an emotive, profound response from the viewer.


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Mark Rothko


Untitled (Painting)


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Not inscribed on recto; signed and dated: verso: "Mark Rothko / 1954" (center left in orange paint)


Unframed: 265.1 × 298.1 cm (104 3/8 × 117 3/8 in.); 265.2 × 298.2 cm (104 3/8 × 117 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Friends of American Art Collection

Reference Number



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

Extended information about this artwork

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