Barnett Newman

Gallery Seven

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.

click image to enlarge
Oil on canvas
96 x 216 inches (243.8 x 548.6 cm)

Collection Onnasch.
Photograph by Bruce White, Courtesy of the Barnett Newman Foundation.
Philadelphia Museum of Art