Mark Rothko. Untitled. 1969-70

Mark Rothko Untitled 1969-70

  • Not on view

This painting belongs to Rothko’s Black on Gray group of paintings. He divided the canvas into distinct halves, limited himself to two colors, and introduced a crisp, white border. The limited palette and stark composition differ significantly from the atmospheric Color Field paintings for which he is best known. Created during the last years of the 1960s, this painting betrays the influence of Minimal art on Rothko’s work.

Gallery label from Abstract Expressionist New York, October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011.

Rothko’s late Black on Gray series reflects a change in his artistic direction shortly before he took his own life in 1970. By the late 1960s, years of heavy smoking and drinking, depression, and anxiety were taking a toll on his mental and physical health. This work’s spare composition and stark black-and-gray palette stems as much from his emotional state as from his interest in the work of the up-and-coming Minimalist generation. In opposition to the Abstract Expressionists, the Minimalists sought to strip away the artist’s emotional and physical presence from the art object. The influence of their approach may be seen in Rothko’s flat application of paint, his opaque surface, and his division of the composition into two distinct, geometric halves—qualities that differ markedly from those of the lyrical, atmospheric Color Field paintings of the previous decades.

Additional text from In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting online course, Coursera, 2017
Medium
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Dimensions
6' 6" x 66 1/4" (198.1 x 168.2 cm)
Credit
Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.
Object number
394.1986
Copyright
© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.