In this iteration of a style that he re-visited many times across several decades, we see a bright palette which gives a positive atmosphere. Red is chosen for the background which appears around the edges of the canvas. There is then a stripe close to the top of the painting which is a similar tone, but just with a slightly more orange look which avoids it completely merging with the background. Either side of that stripe are two areas of white paint, one fairly narrow above, and a huge mass of colour below. It is the latter which takes our focus first when viewing this painting for the first time because of its dominant size but also due to the brightness of the white tone which is relatively pure and reflects light directly at us. It feels a little like staring through a window on a sunny day, where so much light saturates our eyes that we cannot initially make out any details of the environment outside, until our eyes adjust. Visitors to see Rothko's work will see all manner of different things when viewing this style of art, and he was happy for that.
The artist deliberately avoided giving his work useful or descriptive titles in order to encourage this free thinking amongst the public, helping them to see whatever they wanted. There was none of the arrogance of some past art movements, where if a viewer was unaware of meaning then that was their fault, but a more democratic, relaxed approach in which the paintings could be celebrated equally by those who were close to him, and those who had very little knowledge of art at all. This is the type of approach which ultimately helped to make art more mainstream and fostered a strong connection between the western public and the styles of the 20th century, when previously many had seen galleries as pompous and exclusive. Rothko's paintings have also dispersed across different collections, many of which are open to the public, and this has allowed his reputation to remain strong throughout the years that have passed since his death.
The painting was purchased by its present owners in 1993 and they have listed the piece as being sized at 265.5 x 293 cm. They discuss this artwork on their own website and mention that Rothko had been working within this manner for over a decade by the time that he painted No. 16 in 1957. Visitors to the National Gallery of Canada which is based in Ottawa, Ontario will be able to discover some exciting art from native artists as well as from all across the rest of the world. The majority of their European art collection is derived from the 19th and 20th century, though there are items which date back to the Renaissance and even before that. Maman by Louise Bourgeois is a famous sculpture which sits outside the building and you will also find original paintings from the likes of Vilhelm Hammershøi, Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet and Rembrandt van Rijn all featured here as well.