Barnett Newman, Onement I
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Newman proclaimed this painting to be his artistic breakthrough, giving the work an importance belied by its modest size. This is the first time the artist used a vertical band of colour to define the spatial structure of his work. This band, later dubbed a "zip," became Newman's signature mark. He set the masking tape directly on top of the maroon background colour. He then painted the masking tape a bright orange colour, applied with a palette knife, creating an irregular band that both divides and unites the painting. The fact that the masking tape remains shows us how much of an experiment it really was for Newman. This is a small painting. And yet, the possibilities that lay within it, for vast paintings, are evident in the room around you.
“I would prefer going to Churchill, Canada to walk the tundra than go to Paris.” – Barnett Newman