With its collection of feather-edged, hazily geometric forms, Rothko’s No. 5/No. 24 sits midway between his early Surrealist compositions and the abstract arrangements of blocks of color floating on colored grounds that would define his style for the rest of his career. This series of works is often labeled Multiform because of the loosely assembled zones of color that structure the compositions. Here, Rothko abandoned forms that resemble the human body or natural elements, foregrounding color and space within the painting. The artist used small brushes to fan the edges of his forms outward so that they become commingled with their neighbors and the field on which they lightly sit. By varying their size, shape, color, and opacity, he creates visual complexity through a refined exploration of a narrow set of painterly qualities.
Additional text from In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting online course, Coursera, 2017