One of the central figures of the New York School, Mark Rothko emphatically rejected the reading of his work in merely formal, aesthetic terms. He used abstract means to express "basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on," earnestly striving to create an art of awe-inspiring intensity for a secular world. Scale was an enormously important factor for Rothko: “To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it.” Untitled is a monumental piece that might be considered among the first of Rothko's true murals. The painting is somewhat unusual in its horizontality, as Rothko tended to prefer a vertical format. Experienced at relatively close proximity as the artist intended, the extended format of Untitled expands beyond the observer's lateral field of vision, so that the painting seems to open itself up and transcend its limits.


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