Itching to get to D.C. for this Barnett Newman show before it closes in February 2013.
Newman was one of the major abstract expressionists and color field painters. He’s probably best known for his “zips,” thin vertical lines that separate single-hue sections of color, a trademark of his work from the mid-1940s on. As the National Gallery notes, though, Newman did not see the lines as division: “I feel that my zip does not divide my paintings. I feel it does the exact opposite.”
Newman’s ambitious 14-piece “Stations of the Cross” series serves as the centerpiece of the National Gallery exhibit. While other works of art that reference the same subject tend to be narrative-driven, Newman’s paintings are all abstract, aiming not to tell a story but rather to embody an expression “of each man’s agony.” They strive to address a moral crisis that Newman believed artists faced after World War II: “What are we going to paint?”
Judging by this collection of gorgeous 6-1/2′ x 5′ paintings, it seems Newman managed to produce a powerful answer to that question.