Barnett Newman Canto IX 1963–4

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Artwork details

Artist
Barnett Newman 1905–1970
Title
Canto IX
Date 1963–4
Medium Lithograph on paper
Dimensions Image: 370 x 335 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by Mrs Annalee Newman, the artist's widow 1972
Reference
P01035
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Barnett Newman 1905-1970
P01027-44 Eighteen Cantos 1963-4
Series of eighteen lithographs of various sizes
Presented by Mrs Annalee Newman 1972
Exh: Series, Tate Gallery, December 1977-January 1978 (1)
Lit: Thomas B. Hess, Barnett Newman (New York 1971), pp.126-32, Cantos I, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX and XIV repr.; Riva Castleman, Modern Prints since 1942 (London 1973), p.70, Canto VI repr. p.71; Michael Knigin and Murray Zimiles, The Contemporary Lithographic Workshop around the World (New York 1974), p.171, Canto III repr. p.176; Riva Castleman, Prints of the Twentieth Century (London 1976), p.138
P01027 CANTO I 1963
Inscribed 'Canto I 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 9/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 3/4 x 12 3/8 (37.5 x 31.5) on paper 24 7/8 x 20 (63.3 x 51.7)
P01028 CANTO II 1963
Inscribed 'Canto II 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 9/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 3/4 x 12 3/8 (37.5 x 31.5) on paper 16 1/8 x 15 3/4 (41 x 40)
P01029 CANTO III 1963
Inscribed 'Canto III 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 9/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 7/8 x 12 1/2 (37.7 x 31.5) on paper 19 5/8 x 13 1/2 (50 x 35)
P01030 CANTO IV 1963
Inscribed 'Canto IV 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 10/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 3/4 x 12 1/2 (37.5 x 31.8) on paper 20 x 13 7/8 (51 x 35)
P01031 CANTO V 1963
Inscribed 'Canto V 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 11/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 3/8 x 12 3/4 (36.5 x 32.5) on paper 19 5/8 x 14 3/4 (50 x 37.5)
P01032 CANTO VI 1963
Inscribed 'Canto VI 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 11/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 1/2 x 12 3/4 (36.7 x 32.5) on paper 16 1/2 x 13 (42 x 33)
P01033 CANTO VII 1963
Inscribed 'Canto VII 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 12/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 1/2 x 12 3/4 (36.7 x 32.5) on paper 16 1/8 x 15 3/4 (41 x 40)
P01034 CANTO VIII 1963
Inscribed 'Canto VIII 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 12/63' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 1/2 x 13 (36.8 x 33) on paper 18 x 15 3/4 (45.7 x 38.5)
P01035 CANTO IX 1964
Inscribed 'Canto IX 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 1/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 1/2 x 12 7/8 (36.8 x 32.8) on paper 16 1/4 x 15 3/4 (41.5 x 40)
P01036 CANTO X 1964
Inscribed 'Canto X 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 2/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 5/8 x 13 (37.2 x 33) on paper 17 3/4 x 14 3/4 (45 x 37.5)
P01037 CANTO XI 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XI 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 2/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 5/8 x 13 (37 x 33) on paper 17 3/4 x 14 7/8 (44.8 x 38)
P01038 CANTO XII 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XII 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 3/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 5/8 x 13 (37 x 33) on paper 17 3/4 x 14 3/4 (45 x 37.5)
P01039 CANTO XIII 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XIII 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 3/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 5/8 x 13 (37 x 33) on paper 17 3/4 x 14 7/8 (45.2 x 37.8)
P01040 CANTO XIV 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XIV 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 4/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 5/8 x 12 3/8 (37 x 31.4) on paper 15 7/8 x 13 3/4 (40.4 x 35)
P01041 CANTO XV 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XV 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 4/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 3/4 x 12 1/2 (37.5 x 31.8) on paper 15 1/2 x 14 1/8 (39.3 x 35.8)
P01042 CANTO XVI 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XVI 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 4/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 3/4 x 12 5/8 (37.4 x 32) on paper 17 1/2 x 13 3/4 (44.3 x 34.8)
P01043 CANTO XVII 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XVII 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 4/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 3/4 x 12 1/2 (37.5 x 31.7) on paper 17 5/8 x 13 (44.7 x 33)
P01044 CANTO XVIII 1964
Inscribed 'Canto XVIII 14/18' b.l. and 'Barnett Newman 4/64' b.r.
Lithograph, 14 5/8 x 12 1/2 (37.3 x 31.8) on paper 25 1/8 x 19 3/4 (63.7 x 50)
Newman had been introduced to lithography by his friend the painter Cleve Gray in 1961 when he made his first lithographs in black and white at the Pratt Graphics Workshop in New York. The present series, which includes his only prints in colour, was made in 1963-4 at Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York, with the encouragement of publisher Tatyana Grosman.
In his introductory text, dedicated to his wife Annalee and dated '4/64', Newman explained that lithography posed for him the challenge of the relationship between the imprint and the paper it is on, with the inevitable intrusion of the paper frame:
'To crop the extruding paper or to cover it with a mat or to eliminate all margins by "bleeding" (printing on papers smaller than the drawing on the stone) is an evasion of this fact. It is like cropping to make a painting. It is success by mutilation.
'The struggle to overcome this intrusion - to give the imprint its necessary scale so that it could have its fullest expression, (and I feel that the matter of scale in a lithograph has usually not been considered) so that it would not be crushed by the paper margin and still have a margin - that was the challenge for me. That is why each canto has its own personal margins. In some, they are small, in others large, still in others they are larger on one side and the other side is minimal. However, no formal rules apply. Each print and its paper had to be decided by me and in some cases the same print exists with two different sets of margins because each imprint means something different to me. In painting, I try to transcend the size for the sake of scale. So here I was faced with the problem of having each imprint transcend not only its size but also the white frame to achieve this sense of scale.
'These eighteen cantos are then single, individual expressions, each with its unique difference. Yet since they grew one out of the other, they also form an organic whole - so that as they separate and as they join in their interplay, their symphonic mass lends additional clarity to each individual canto, and at the same time, each canto adds its song to the full chorus.
'I must explain that I had no plan to make a portfolio of "prints". I am not a printmaker. Nor did I intend to make a "set" by introducing superficial variety. These cantos arose from a compelling necessity - the result of grappling with the instrument.
'To me that is what lithography is. It is an instrument. It is not a "medium"; it is not a poor man's substitute for painting or for drawing. Nor do I consider it to be a kind of translation of something from one medium into another. For me, it is an instrument that one plays. It is like a piano or an orchestra, and as with an instrument, it interprets. And as in all the interpretive arts, so in lithography, creation is joined with the "playing"; in this case not of bow and string, but of stone and press. The definition of a lithograph is that it is writing on stone. But unlike Gertrude Stein's rose, the stone is not a stone. The stone is a piece of paper.
'I have been captivated by the things that happen in playing this litho instrument; the choices that develop when changing a color or the paper-size. I have "played" hoping to evoke every possible instrumental lick. The prints really started as three, grew to seven, then eleven, then fourteen, and finished as eighteen. Here are the cantos, eighteen of them, each one different in form, mood, color, beat, scale and key. There are no cadenzas. Each is separate. Each can stand by itself. But its fullest meaning, it seems to me, is when it is seen together with the others ...'
An explanatory sheet (colophon) at the back gives the following additional information:
'A volume to be used as a book, boxed, containing nineteen original lithographs, consisting of 18 Cantos and a title page by Barnett Newman, together with a preface written by the artist and a colophon page, and dedicated to Annalee Newman. The edition consists of eighteen volumes of which this volume is Number 14 [14 written in]. The papers used are British, French Angoumois and Japanese hand-made papers. The artist used American and French inks - straight, without mixing. The lithographs were printed on a handpress by Zigmunds Priede in the studio of Universal Limited Art Editions, publisher, West Islip, Long Island, New York. All the stones are effaced. Each lithograph is signed and numbered by the artist and embossed with the seal of the publisher. The box is hand-made by Mrs Caroline Horton, bound in vellum with the artist's initials drawn by him and embossed. Typography and page-design of the preface and colophon are by Herbert Matter. Publication was directed by Tatyana Grosman.'
Mrs Grosman told the compiler in June 1977 that she met Newman for the first time at a party at Rauschenberg's, and he said that he would like to come and see her workshop. When he first began, he only intended to make three prints, but the number grew by stages to fourteen and then to eighteen. They even went so far as to make a frontispiece for fourteen. Finally he changed to eighteen, a number he said he liked as it is in Hebrew a symbol for life. His original intention was to cut off the margins and treat the prints like his paintings, but she remarked to him that lithographs should not be replicas of paintings and that one ought to respect the paper. From then on he took the prints home with him and spent many days trying out different margins, by bending the edges of the sheet. Once he was satisfied, the paper for that particular print had to be ordered to that specific size. Cantos V and VI were actually printed from the same stone, with identical images, with and without margins. When the lithographs were printed, he gave a great deal of thought to where they should be signed, and with what kind of pencil, and then to where Universal Limited Art Edition's embossed seal should go. A phone call was put through to the State Department in Washington to check that the official seal on bank notes was placed over the signature of the Treasurer, and the same procedure was followed in embossing the prints.
The following technical information about the prints, with particulars of the stones used, the colours of the inks, the type of paper etc. was supplied by Universal Limited Art Editions in January 1978 after consultation with Zigmunds Priede who printed them.
Title Page
Two stones, Rouge Cardinal and Noir Velours. Angoumois paper, 25 1/2" x 19 1/2" (watermarked with the publisher's seal). Signed: 4/64.
Preface
Typography. Japan (Shogun) paper, 22 1/2" x 17 1/2".
Canto I
One stone. American white (mixed). Chatham British hand-made paper, 25" x 20". Signed: 9/63.
Canto II
Two stones (background stone as I). American black and Bleu Outremer. Angoumois paper, 16 1/2" x 16". Signed: 9/63.
Canto III
One stone (as I and II). American black. Japan (Shogun) paper, 19 1/2" x 14". Signed: 9/63.
Canto IV
Two stones (as II). American black and Noir Velours. Chatham British hand made paper, 20" x 14". Signed: 10/63.
Canto V
One stone. American black. Angoumois paper, 19 1/2" x 14 1/2". Signed: 11/63.
Canto VI
One stone (as V). American black. Angoumois paper, 16 1/2" x 13". Signed: 11/63.
Canto VII
Two stones (as V and VI, reworked). Bleu Outremer and Ultramarine Blue. Angoumois paper, 16 1/2" x 15 1/2". Signed: 12/63. Note: The overprint stone (crayon) was used in Cantos X-XVIII.
Canto VIII
Two stones. Bleu Outremer (right) and Ultramarine Blue (left). Angoumois paper, 17 1/2" x 15". Signed: 12/63.
Canto IX
Two stones. Bleu Outremer (right) and American black. Angoumois paper, 16" x 15 1/2". Signed: 1/64.
Canto X
Two stones (background stone as IX, overprint stone as VIII). Deep Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine Blue. Japan (Shogun) paper, 18" x 15". Signed: 2/64.
Canto XI
Two stones (as X). Jaune Primavère and Ultramarine Blue. Japan paper, 18" x 15". Signed: 2/64.
Canto XII
Two stones (as X and XI). Jaune Primavère and Bleu Outremer. Japan paper, 18" x 14 1/2". Signed: 3/64.
Canto XIII
Two stones (as X-XII). Deep Cadmium Yellow and Bleu Outremer. Japan paper, 18" x 14 1/2". Signed: 3/64.
Canto XIV
Two stones (as X-XIII). Rouge Rubis and American red. Angoumois paper, 16 1/2" x 13 1/2". Signed: 4/64.
Canto XV
Two stones (as X-XIV). Laque de Garence and Rouge Cardinal. Japan paper, 15 1/4" x 13 1/2". Signed: 4/64.
Canto XVI
Two stones (as X-XV). Laque de Garence and American red. Angoumois paper, 17 1/2" x 13 3/4". Signed: 4/64.
Canto XVII
Two stones (as X-XVI). American red and Rouge Cardinal. Japan paper, 17 1/2" x 13". Signed: 4/64.
Canto XVIII
Two stones (as X-XVII). American red and Rouge Rubis. Angoumois paper, 25" x 19 1/2". Signed: 4/64.
Colophon
Typography. Angoumois paper, 22 1/2" x 17 1/2".
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, pp.557-61

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