The 1970s were troubling times for Willem de Kooning. He battled with alcohol and both his health and relationship with his wife had deteriorated. However, after moving to East Hampton, de Kooning began to paint again with his former enthusiasm. The work became more controlled and regulated as he had given up alcohol and antidepressants.
During this time, De Kooning's paintings took on pictorial simplifications. He removed the subject from his work and was implementing a purely abstract style. The work became about the pure vigor of the execution rather than the depiction of a subject. De Kooning also moved away from exercising automatism as he had done in his early work to a more premeditated and deliberate approach demonstrating his new work ethic and endurance.
De Kooning also restricted his palette in his later work to shades of warm whites, forest greens and lipstick reds. The colors organically metamorphose into an all-over work of art. However, while Untitled is clearly an abstract composition, the composition recalls landscape topography. The reference to the landscape is a theme de Kooning embraced throughout his career which he first demonstrated in his Women series. Untitled, because of its more subtle suggestions, gives the painting a sense of calm that is not evident is his prior representational works.
The intimate scale of the painting is another key aspect to de Kooning's paintings. His conscious and scrupulous approach was not conducive to canvases of massive dimensions. Preferring to work on an easel, de Kooning remarked "If I stretch my arms next to the rest of myself and wonder where my fingers are-that is all the space I need as a painter (W. de Kooning, as quoted in Willem de Kooning, New York, 1952, n.p.).