Mark Rothko Untitled 1969-70

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 403 The David Geffen Galleries

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.
Additional text

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
Acrylic on canvas
6' 6" x 66 1/4" (198.1 x 168.2 cm)
Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.
Object number
© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


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).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].