Barnett Newman (American, 1905–1970) was a painter and art critic, born in New York to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland. In his late teens, Newman began taking classes at the Art Students League, where he befriended fellow artist Adolph Gottlieb. Additionally, Newman studied philosophy at the City College of New York, and upon graduating, worked with his father at their family’s clothing manufacturing business to earn money and support his life as an artist. After the company faltered in the early 1930s due to the stock market crash, Newman became a substitute art teacher. In 1936, he married Annalee Greenhouse, and by 1940 had given up his substitute position and was teaching silk-screen printing and batik on a part-time basis to adult students. It wasn’t until the mid-1940s that Newman’s career as a professional artist truly began: Considered one of the most prominent artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Newman was a leading painter working in the color field style. His paintings are often large in scale and characterized by flat, vivid colors, and one or more vertical lines. In 1943, Newman arranged an exhibition with friends Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, and Milton Avery in protest against the selection jury for a particular exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During the 1940s, Newman continued to draw, paint, and write art criticism. In 1945, he completed his first known work on canvas. 1949 was his most productive year, during which he completed 17 paintings. Newman’s first solo exhibitions during the early 1950s were generally not well received by critics and art collectors; however, by the late 1950s, major museums began purchasing Newman’s work as he garnered a larger audience and greater appreciation. One of Newman’s best-known workss is The Stations of the Cross (1958–1966), a series of 14 abstract paintings in black-and-white. The subtitle of the series, “Lema Sabachthani,” translated as “God, Why have you forsaken me,” is a clear reference to the subject of Newman’s work. Today, Barnett Newman’s works are included in many prestigious public collections around the world, including those in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland.

Timeline

1905
Born in New York, NY
1922–1926
Studied with John Sloan and William von Schlegel The Art Students League, New York, NY
1923–1927
BA, Philosophy City College, New York, NY
1941
Studied botanics and ornithology Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
1944
Organized pre-Columbian stone sculpture exhibition Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY
1947
Organized the The Ideographic Picture Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY
1962–1964
Taught at the University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
1970
Awarded Brandeis University Creative Arts Medal
1970
Died

Exhibitions

2009
1945-1949 Repartir à zéro, comme si la peinture n’avait jamais existé, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon
2008
Color as Field. American Painting 1950-1975, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN
Traces du Sacré, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976, The Jewish Museum of New York, New York City, NY
Eye on the Collection: Views and Viewpoints, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
2007
La Abstraction del Paisaje, Fundación Juan March, Madrid
Declaring Space, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
Mark Rothko & Barnett Newman - The Sublime is Now!, Foundation Beyeler, Riehen
2006
Elemental Form, L&M Arts, New York City, NY
Black Paintings, HDK, Haus der Kunst, München, Munich
2005
Leporello, Een reis door de collectie, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam
Wilder a tribute to the Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles 1965-1979, Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York City, NY
2004
Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form 1940s-70s, MAM - Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL
Shanghai Art Museum: Encounters with Modernism, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam
2003
Barnett Newman: Cantos, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart (solo)
2002
Barnett Newman, Tate Modern, London (England) (solo)
Barnett Newman, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA (solo)
1999–2000
Barnett Newman: Notes, 1968: The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX (solo)
1998
Barnett Newman, Galerie Karsten Greve - Cologne, Cologne (solo)
1996
Barnett Newman: Prints 1961-1969 - Camden Arts Centre, London (solo)
1993
Azur: Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris
1991
Barnett Newman: 18 cantos - Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur, Chur
1983
Barnett Newman Foundation, New York (solo)
1982
Dia Art Foundation, New York (solo)
1981
Kunstmuseum, Basel (solo)
Museum Ludwig, Cologne (solo)
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (solo)
1979
Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland (solo)
1978
The Subject of the Artist, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1976
America As Art, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
20th Century American Drawing: 3 Avant-Garde Generations, Guggenheim Museum, New York
1972
Tate Gallery, London (travelled to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris) (solo)
1971
Museum of Modern Art, New York (solo)
1970
Barnett Newman: January 29, 1905-July 4, 1970, Pasadena Art Museum, California (solo)
Das Graphische Werk, Kammerkunsthalle, Berne (solo)
1969
22 Lithographien, Kunstmuseum, Basel (solo)
Prints by 4 New York Painters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
1968
Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage, Museum of Modern Art, New York (travelled to Los Angeles and Chicago)
1966
Barnett Newman, The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachtani, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, NY (solo)
1965
Nicholas Wilder Gallery, Los Angeles (solo)
1962
Barnett Newman and Willem de Kooning, Allan Stone Gallery, New York (solo)
1958–1959
The New American Painting, Museum of Modern Art (International Council) New York, NY
French and Company, New York (solo)
1958
Retrospective, Bennington College Bennington, VT (solo)
1951
Betty Parsons Gallery New York, NY (solo)
1950
Betty Parsons Gallery New York, NY (solo)