Championed by Clement Greenberg, the most influential critic and arbiter on the scene at the time and the foremost theorist on advanced modernist painting, Untitled emerges from Kenneth Noland's early breakthrough series of targets, which has long been recognized as Noland's most successful attainment of his goals, and one of the seminal achievements of Post-War American painting. The raw canvas, a defining feature of Noland's oeuvre, dramatizes the staining effect of the centrifugal force of the outermost ring that in turn seems to result from a virtual spinning of the color bands. Later works from the series are cooler in palette, with less expressionist brushwork, and are often recognized, along with Frank Stella's striped black paintings, as precursors of the Minimalist aesthetic of the 1960's.
Like his former professor Josef Albers, with whom he studied in 1947 at Black Mountain College, Kenneth Noland worked within a rigid compositional format and with a repeated concentric image, which allowed him to focus on color, his primary concern. Within this self-imposed restriction, Noland rigorously experimented, varying the palette, thickness of bands, color saturation and scale. "Noland's search of the ideal Platonic form has crystallized into an art in which color and form are held in perfect equilibrium. The spare geometry of his form heightens the emotional impact of his color. The rational and the felt, distilled form and sensuous color intermesh to create a magic presence. His space is color. His color is space. Color is all". (D. Waldman, Kenneth Noland: A Retrospective, New York, 1977, p. 36). As a result, the emotional impact of his color is never downplayed. Since 1958, Noland's paintings have been regarded the quintessential specimens of Color Field painting. His staining technique endowed the surface of his paintings with a revolutionary degree of unity with the canvas, and along with Morris Louis and Jules Olitski, and Helen Frankenthaler.