Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman
Genetic Moment, 1947
The Way II, 1969
Genetic Moment, 1947
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Barnett Newman
Genetic Moment, 1947

Oil on canvas, 96.5 x 71 cm
Gift from Annelie Newman
Photo: Cantz Medienmanagement, Ostfildern

The Way II, 1969
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Currently not on show

Barnett Newman
The Way II, 1969

Acrylic on canvas, 198.5 x 152.5 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

Barnett Newman’s paintings are among the most radical artistic statements made by post-war American artists in opposition to traditional tendencies in European art. Essential features of his work include sharply defined imagery, clarity and severe coloration. In his late work The way II, Newman sets up a stark clash of colour values. The red field in the centre is flanked on either side by black strips, each of which measures a third of the red plane. The frame of black amplifies the red to its greatest intensity. The emphasis clearly lies on the vertical momentum of the forms, which uncompromisingly shoot upwards and seem almost to reach out beyond themselves and the canvas. This combination of colour fields opens up new realms of experience in the boundless quest to capture the intangible and the sublime.

Barnett Newman

1905, New York – 1970, New York

The work of this American painter and sculptor is considered representative of a meditative form of Expressionism and of Colour Field painting. In the late 1940s, at the time when he was setting up the Subjects of the Artist school together with Mark Rothko, William Baziotes, Robert Motherwell and David Hare, Newman was painting Abstract Expressionist works above all, his so-called Black Paintings. Ten years later he exhibited large-format, monochrome canvases where he had applied the paint one layer at a time, precisely calculating the colour effect he achieved by means of differentiated underpainting. He remained true to this artistic style – which earned him two invitations to take part in the documenta (in 1959 and 1968) – until his death in 1970.

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