Barnett Newman

Gallery Four

Barnett Newman discovered his own artistic language with Onement I (1948), and he worked feverishly over the course of the next two years to explore its potential. Newman moved the single zip away from the center of the canvas, added more zips, oriented the zips horizontally, and widened them into broad bands. He also introduced variations in the expressive mood of the zip. Sometimes its edges are sharp, while at other times they are softly wavering. The softness was caused by the neighboring color bleeding under the masking tape into the zone reserved for the zip, blurring the vertical edge. Newman's paintings of 1949-50 reflect a broad experimentation with color. He created distinctive hues both on the palette and on the canvas; an area of color often represents many layers of paint. Whether or not a painting was "right" was based on Newman's intuitive appraisal of proportion and color. Most of the paintings in this gallery were shown in Newman's first solo exhibition in 1950, held at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. At that time they were unnamed; he invented the titles some years later.

click image to enlarge
Horizon Light
1949
Oil on canvas
30 1/2 x 72 1/2 inches (77.5 x 184.2 cm)

Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, UNL-Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sills (U-1184).
Photograph by Bruce White, Courtesy of the Barnett Newman Foundation.
Horizon Light
Philadelphia Museum of Art