The present painter can be said to work with chaos not only in the sense that he is handling the chaos of the blank picture plane but also in that he is handling the chaos of form. In trying to go beyond the visible and the known world he is working with forms that are unknown even to him.–Barnett Newman, 1943-1945
Barnett Newman is one of the most important artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement, which developed in New York in the late 1940s. Both his art and his role as an engaged and vocal critic within the Federation of American Painters and Sculptors helped shape an emerging group of painters devoted to seeking new and original modes of expression. This group, also known as the New York School, included other painters whose works are in this gallery: Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Beauford Delaney, and Ad Reinhardt.
In his large Color Field paintings, Newman sought to eliminate any reference to objects, figures, and symbols. He found himself left with only one remaining subject–pure empty space–which he chose to interpret as color. The two vertical lines that interrupt this orange expanse–almost appearing to float over it rather than divide it–he called “zips.” Newman’s pared-down compositions and his use of bold, flat color greatly influenced the Minimalist artists of the 1960s and 1970s.
Walker solo exhibition: Barnett Newman: The Sublime Is Now, 1994