Number 14, (1960) by Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko's search to express profound emotion through painting culminated in his now-signature compositions of richly colored squares filling large canvases, evoking what he referred to as "the sublime." One of the pioneers of Color Field Painting, Rothko's abstract arrangements of shapes, ranging from the slightly surreal biomorphic ones in his early works to the dark squares and rectangles in later years, are intended to evoke the metaphysical through viewers' communion with the canvas in a controlled setting. "I'm not an abstractionist," he once said. "I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on."

Just like Composition 10, Pier and Ocean (1915) of Piet Mondrian brings the Cubist style to the brink of total abstraction, with a view of a pier jutting into the North Sea. Mark Rothko's Number 14, inspires thoughts of the spirit by similar means, stripping the picture of direct references to the outside world.