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Painter, SculptorView items sold at auction
(b New York, New York, 1905; d New York, New York, 1970) American Artist.
Barnett Newman attended the Art Students League while studied philosophy at the City College of New York. He worked at his father’s clothing manufacturing company, also, and as a substitute art teacher in high schools. In the 1930s, the artist destroyed his own Abstract Expressionist paintings, and stopped painting between 1939-40. He began making his “zips” paintings in 1948. The “zips” are an act of division, a gesture of separation that re-enacts God’s primal gesture, they also presents the gesture itself, as independent shapes—man—the only animal who walks upright, virile, erect. In his co-written letter with fellow artists Adolph Guttiob and Mark Rothko to the New York Times in 1943, he explained, “there is no such thing as good painting about nothing. We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless.” In White Fire I, and White Fire III, the pale field of color is made radiant white by the effects of the two zips, which also suggest a constantly shifting sense of space against the seemly infinite expanse of brightness, creating an overall effect of a mystical light that presumably inspired by the works distinctly mystical title. Newman aimed to provoke an existential sense of awe and wonderment in the viewers, and it was his intention that the visual experience of the painting should be a single experience as single as the encounter that one has with a person, a living being. (Credit: Christie’s, New York, Post-War and Contemporary (Evening Sale), November 13, 2002, Lot 14.)
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