Rothko separates these two main areas with a strip of white and then places a small rectangle across the bottom portion of the painting. This artwork is loosely dated at 1950-1952, by which time the artist had been working in this style for several years and was starting to experiment with its possibilities. He would ultimately produce several hundred variants of what became known as the Color Field movement and was instantly seen as the leader or spearhead of this artistic collective. Earlier in his career Rothko would produce Surrealists artworks and others from more traditional approaches but he is most famous today for the style seen before us here.
The artist would vary his palette considerably but there were certain colours that appeared frequently. Yellow tones were certainly one of those, but Rothko wouldn’t normally put two versions of it together in the same piece. The majority of his best Color Field paintings had clearly contrasting tones which produced highly impactful finishes. In the case of this painting, however, much of the subtle variations merge together to create a single block of colour, unless you are standing particularly close to it. There is also a loose use of colour which allows other tones to appear, leaving them as dirty rather than attempting to create clearly defined forms with precise lines and no variation in tone, in a way that Malevich and Kandinsky would sometimes work.
Rothko became one of the most famous American artists in history and was an integral part of its success within the 20th century. No longer was this nation merely copying what had already been achieved in Europe, but now there were new ideas and innovations which would provide influence in the opposite direction. This change was also reflected in the impressive collections of several National US galleries that encouraged new artists to follow in their footsteps in future generations. Since Rothko passed away this transition has continued onwards and today we can consider New York to be the artistic centre of the western world, having replaced Paris in that regard several decades ago.