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Untitled (Black on Gray), 1969

Rothko once said: “I paint large pictures because I want to create a state of intimacy. A large picture is an immediate transaction; it takes you into it.”

Untitled (Black and Gray) belongs to the final series of paintings Rothko created before committing suicide in 1970. Painted in the wake of an acute illness, the work has a somber palette and stark composition that have long been attributed to the artist’s depressed mental state. Here the fields of color, or non-color, are stretched nearly to the edges of the canvas, and appear to flatten and recede.