Artist biography

Barnett Newman 1905-1970

American Abstract Expressionist painter and sculptor, born in New York. Attended classes at the Art Students League while studying at the City College of New York, then worked 1927-37 for his father's company manufacturing men's clothing; also as a substitute art teacher in high schools. Painted in the 1930s in an American Expressionist style, but destroyed his early work and c.1939-40 stopped painting. In 1944-5 made a new start with swiftly-executed drawings in chalks and oil crayon of plant and seed growth, and images of fertilisation. Active 1944-9 as a champion of the new American painting and as an authority on primitive art; wrote catalogue forewords for Gottlieb, Stamos and Ferber, articles for Tiger's Eye, etc. Began in 1948 to work with fields of colour interrupted by one or more vertical stripes (or 'zips'), and in 1949 painted his first wall-sized pictures. First one-man exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1950. Painted from 1958-62 in black and white; in the late 1960s with colours of exceptional purity and saturation. His late work from 1965 included a small number of steel sculptures. Died in New York.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.556