Four Darks in Red, 1958 by Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko continued to simplify the compositional elements of his paintings. In 1950, he began to divide the canvas into horizontal bands of color. Despite the frontal composition and absence of spatial illusionism in these works, the broad bands of color appear simultaneously to float in front of the picture plane and to merge with the color field upon which they are place, as in Four Darks in Red. A luminosity results from the repeated layering of thin washes of paint, which allows some underpainting to show through the upper coats. In each work of this period, Rothko sought only subtle variations in proportion and color, yet achieved within this limited format a broad range of emotions and moods.