Once he felt he had exhausted the myriad possibilities of his pictographs, Gottlieb began to simplify his symbols and composition in order to enhance his theme of universality. By the 1960s, he was creating paintings like Equinox, in which the grid is reduced to an implied (although occasionally delineated) horizontal division that separates the image into two halves. Within each half, a few shapes—circles, squares, or calligraphic gestures—float against a field of color, vying for focal supremacy. Gottlieb creates a tension between the two forms struggling against each other, but in their balance and containment within a field of color, he also achieves a harmonious resolution.
Duncan Phillips acquired his two examples of Gottlieb's work soon after each was painted, evidence of his appreciation of his art. Although no specific reference to Gottlieb appears in Phillips's surviving writings, he could have had Gottlieb in mind when he declared in 1955, "I admire the aesthetic interpretations of the age we live in—even the symbols for the anarchy, the turmoil and the inner tensions."