Untitled Artist: Mark Rothko (American, born Russia, 1903–1970, D.F.A. (Hon.) 1969)


Modern and Contemporary Art

On view, 3rd floor, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design

Like many of the Abstract Expressionists, Mark Rothko celebrated painting as a revelation of the self, a metaphor for the artist's inner emotional and psychological state. Yet he was also concerned with the viewer's share in this art of subjective expression. Suggesting that his paintings be viewed up close and in dim light, he hoped to immerse the spectator in color. In mature works such as this painting, the deliberately limited structure of rectangles or squares, arranged in loose, vertical sequences, enables the exploration of an infinite range of exquisite color harmonies and proportional relationships. Color acts as both space and light, achieving an effect analogous to that of the diffused, colored light that streams through stained-glass windows.


Oil on unprimed canvas


93 × 56 3/16 in. (236.2 × 142.7 cm)

Credit Line

Katharine Ordway Collection

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

  • Stella Paul, Chromophilia: The Story of Colour in Art (London: Phaidon, 2017), 126
  • Leo Villareal, Leo Villareal (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010), ill
  • Mark Rothko, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1998), 146–47, no. 67, ill
  • Mark Rothko, 1903–1970, exh. cat. (London: Tate Gallery, 1987), 133, no. 44, ill
  • Lesley K. Baier, The Katharine Ordway Collection, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 70, 72–73, 103, no. 45
  • Diane Waldman, Mark Rothko, 1930–1970: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1978), no. 119, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

abstract (general art genre)




Signed verso l.r. "Mark Rothko/1954"

Technical metadata and APIs


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