With its two flat impenetrable planes of intense dark green striking a deep and penetrating chord against a pure ultramarine background which zips across the middle of the work holding back their infinite recession into darkness, Untitled is a strikingly powerful work of simple sobriety and intimate intensity.
Rothko always attempted to express the grandeur and tragedy of the human condition through his art with the simplest and most direct of means. "A painting is not a picture of an experience," he once famously declared, " it is an experience." In his late series of acrylic paintings, the means of Rothko's art - its color, its form and its scale - were progressively reduced to their simplest and their most intense. Dark forms ultimately came to predominate, steadily resonating against rich plum and radiant dark blue backgrounds that stabilise them by establishing a complete and often moving tonal harmony.
Late acrylics like Untitled reflect a unifying in Rothko's work as his art and life came increasingly, to merge together, establishing an extraordinarily deep and powerfully meditative visual tone in his work that is perhaps unique in the history of art. This extraordinary quality in Rothko's late work is a sombre softly resonating tone that expresses both a sense of awe and sobriety, and which, like the Houston Chapel murals, seems to express the essence or perhaps the "soul" of its creator.
Dore Ashton recalls from a visit to Rothko's studio at this time, the artist was greatly uplifted by the power of his new work which he saw as marking a significant development in his art. Showing her his latest acrylic works on paper she recalled how he "named the exact number with pride, as though to say, 'with all my trouble, I was able to do this.' Many are very haunting. Some directly expressive of a sinking heart. Many blacks over purple, or blacks over brown in a more decisive, almost incisive line dividing the weights. He sees them as very different and asked if they surprised me. I see them as consequent to the murals." (D. Ashton cited in J. E. B. Breslin, Mark Rothko: A Biography, Chicago, 1993, p. 511).