Barnett Newman tended to concentrate on a single color for extended periods of
time. In 1950 and 1951 he explored the rich emotional range of various reds,
and then dedicated himself to the power of deep blues. From 1953-55 he became
engaged with the unusual color of pale aqua, which he explored in several
formats and in combination with other colors. Newman created his aqua variants
anew for each painting, mixing blue and green pigments with white. His 1955
canvas Uriel, named for the biblical archangel of light, is the last and
largest of the aqua paintings.
After making Uriel, Newman stopped painting for two years. His sense of
discouragement vividly climaxed in a heart attack in late 1957. As he
recuperated, he returned to painting with the narrow canvas Outcry,
a work that reveals an almost primal rediscovery of his "voice"
as a painter. That rediscovery continued in the magnificent series of fourteen
paintings titled The Stations of the Cross, which occupied Newman
during the next eight years and are widely considered his greatest masterpiece.
They are an important part of this exhibition and are on display in the largest
gallery in the Museum's wing devoted to modern and contemporary art, located
across the building on this floor.