Barnett Newman

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American painter Barnett Newman was famous for his ‘zips’ painting art. Newman is considered to be one of the Sublime American artists in modern art along with other famous names which include Gottlieb, Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko. One can’t really call Newman an abstract painter thought his work stemmed deeply in some of its myths. His trademark ‘zips’ set him apart from other Abstract painters of those times. Newman found acclaim in his later years as an artist, his work took a while to get noticed – not that it bothered Newman much. For him art was there to be seen at, he didn’t see art as a money making tool. Newman was more inclined towards the form of ‘pure art’, something more meaningful and strong then the usual art seen in everyday life. His thoughts on art were more philosophical then other artists, for Newman painting was a large thought process.

Barnett Newman was born in 1905 in New York to Jewish immigrants from Poland. Art came a little late in life for Newman who went to university to study philosophy and then later on worked with his father.  Newman credits his degree in philosophy to making him adapt a longing for the art. He always considered himself to be a philosopher first then an artist. For Newman art was to make the viewer get a glimpse of the artists mind and not vice versa. Newman was not very happy with the tragic turn the art world had taken during and after World War II. Most paintings featured scenes of chaos, sadness, death and loss. For Newman he wanted his art to make a different impact, hence he searched for ways for present ‘pure art.’ Newman’s famous work Onement I, is considered his breakthrough in many ways. It features his trademark ‘zip’, which is basically a parting in the middle of the painting. The zip was a motif which was central to many of Newman’s works. The painting consists of two parallel works of deep maroon color which have been divided with the yellow zip. For Newman the zip was not a division of the painting, in fact it served as a merger between both panes. His paintings not only drew viewers in emotionally but physically as well. The philosopher in him always considered that the world was driven by the human need to feast on something meaningful and that could be provided by artists. Newman saw all artists as creators of the world. His philosophical approach is also when set him apart from the rest of the Abstract artists. Newman also maintained that though paintings looked simple to the viewer there were quite complex and difficult to paint in reality.

Another masterpiece of Newman’s is Concord. Featuring his trademark zip, this painting actually contains two dissections rather than one. One line stands very prominent and the other is a bit hazy, and the two pones are set in a deep aqua color. What Newman wants to the viewer to think it that whether or not space can convey meaning. Despite creating simple masterpieces, Barnett Newman always stated that his paintings were never looking for a solution to the issues of tragedy the world is often faced with. For him, he just wanted art to be pure, free from the other elements which plagued the world.

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