Untitled (Blue, Green, and Brown) by Mark Rothko was painted in oil on canvas in 1952. It is an abstract colour field painting, featuring a predominantly blue canvas with green, brown and blue striping at the bottom. Despite its categorisation as an abstract painting, Mark Rothko hated the critics who tried to interpret his paintings, stating that his work was not in fact abstract, but rather that 'it lives and breathes' independently. Indeed, Mark Rothko felt that in his art, he was merely trying to explore the relationship between colour and form, rather than making an abstract statement.
Mark Rothko was born in Latvia but studied his art in New York City. As a young artist, he was tutored by Max Weber, a Cubist artist who taught Rothko many of the principles of Modernist art. However, for Rothko, art was to become more a form of how he could express his feelings, particularly when it came to his religious views. Throughout his career, Mark Rothko experimented with colour, and Untitled (Blue, Green, and Brown) is typical of much of his colour field paintings. Rothko felt that his choice of rectangular blocks of colour could provide drama, giving the viewer an emotional response as they looked at his paintings. Rothko was influenced heavily by the outfall of World War II, as well as the philosophies of Nietzsche and the Greek tragedian, Aeschylus. Rothko felt that his bold, contrasting colour work combined multiform and biomorphic abstraction, creating a surreal landscape that was both tragic and dramatic in equal measure.
Untitled (Blue, Green, and Brown) by Mark Rothko also shows evidence of how much Rothko was influenced by primitive art, where colour and shape take precedence over reality in order to tell the artist's story most effectively. Rothko was also deeply interested in mythology, especially the heavy use of symbolism in mythology, creating paintings that made great use of their space, as well as colour and form. Although in his early career, Rothko was always interested in explaining his paintings, particularly how the collective consciousness could influence social symbolism, which was particularly relevant with the rise of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich. However, by the time he painted Untitled (Blue, Green, and Brown) in 1952, the artist had tired of constantly trying to explain his abstract works, and instead he withdrew from identifying himself with any particular artist movement, stating in an interview that 'I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions', not in classifying his works.