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Description: Barnett Newman: A Catalogue Raisonné
Notes on the Organization of the Catalogue Raisonné
PublisherYale University Press
Catalogue Raisonné
Notes on the Organization of the Catalogue Raisonné
This catalogue raisonné contains the following sections: Paintings, Drawings, Graphics, Sculptures, Architectural Model, and Unidentified Works, Unfinished Paintings, and Ephemera. Within those categories and their respective chronological sequences, undated works and works of identical date are integrated according to stylistic characteristics.
As not every work has been available for inspection, we have had to rely on the observations of others. Dates, media, dimensions, and inscriptions have been verified, whenever possible, with the owners.
An entry typically includes the following elements:
Title variants (where applicable)
Edition (where applicable)
Present Owner
Additional reproductions (up to 1970)
The works are numbered in unbroken sequence, from 1 to 329. These numbers are used for reference throughout the volume, preceded by the abbreviation BNF (for Barnett Newman Foundation).
The titles used herein were either published during the artist’s lifetime or supported by his widow or have been otherwise reliably documented. If a work was referred to by a different title in a previous publication or in the context of an exhibition, this is duly noted.
If no title is attached to a work, it is referred to either as “untitled” or by a descriptive title. When several untitled paintings have been dated to the same year, they have been numbered and their appellations standardized for this publication.
Title variants
Archival documents such as insurance records and storage lists have yielded title variants; they follow the title of the work on the next line. Additional variants, including orthographic variations and translated titles under which a work may have been exhibited or published, are included under Exhibitions and References, following the citation in parentheses.
Dates inscribed by the artist are cited under Inscriptions. At times he employed the plus sign (“+”) to signify that the creation of a given work extended over more than one year. If the date was not indicated by the artist, we have relied on documentation contained in the Barnett Newman Foundation archives as well as on art-historical sources. Variants of dates encountered in the literature are included in the References citations—that is, if in a previous publication or in the context of an exhibition the date of a given work deviates from the one assigned in the catalogue raisonné entry, that date is included in parentheses.
Works are arranged by medium and, as a rule, chronologically within the medium. An exception was made for The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani. Those fifteen paintings are first shown together as a series; then, each in its proper chronological position among the other works in the Paintings section, the works are reproduced again and described in individual entries with full apparatus.
The date of completion of some works not dated by the artist can be fixed with greater precision than can those of others. The sequence herein reflects the present state of scholarship and is subject to change as new facts come to light.
Every effort has been made to describe the medium of each work as accurately and fully as possible. Our choice of terms often follows convention; thus, for example, “Magna” is used instead of the brand name “Magna Color” for the type of solvent-based acrylic paint first produced by the firm Bocour Artist Colors. Similarly, the common term “acrylic” is used in the catalogue entries for the water-based paint whose properties may be deduced from its formal, descriptive name, “acrylic emulsion paint.”
Certain terms reflect the way in which Barnett Newman used his materials. For example, the artist often chose to prepare his canvases with a synthetic adhesive called Behlen’s Rivit Glue. In the catalogue entries on those paintings where the artist used this polyvinyl acetate emulsion as a visible design element, the adhesive is described as a “polymer emulsion.” In the entries for those paintings where Newman broadened his use of the medium by adding pigment, it is described as “pigmented polymer emulsion.”
Since Newman often treated the entire surface of a canvas before applying paint, it seemed inappropriate to call those portions of the fabric that were left unpainted “raw canvas.” Instead, we use the more descriptive term “exposed canvas.” The versos of some paintings have been covered by a second canvas. Such secondary canvases, whether adhered to the original support or not, are called “lining canvases.”
The medium given for each work is based on inspection or follows the wording of its owner. Any alteration of traditional media descriptions in the paintings entries required confirmation by laboratory analysis.
The dimensions are given in inches followed by centimeters in parentheses. Height precedes width, which, in the case of threedimensional works, precedes depth. When dimensions published earlier differ significantly from those established here, they are included.
The facts of fabrication, in the case of sculptures, and of publication, in the case of graphics, are assembled under this heading.
Inscriptions are recorded within quotation marks. They are all by the artist, with the exception of those on posthumously inscribed graphics. Those that appear on the back of a work are preceded by the word “verso.” The position of inscriptions on sculptures is described in detail. The transcriptions reproduce exactly the spelling of the original, including the distinction between upper- and lower-case letters. Quotation marks and line breaks are duly recorded. The latter are indicated by an oblique. Watermarks and blind stamps on graphics are also included under this rubric.
Present owner
Every effort has been made to phrase each ownership credit according to the present owner’s wishes.
Past ownership is listed in chronological sequence. As a rule, if the documents of a sale were accessible, the transaction is referred to as a purchase; otherwise the neutral term “acquisition” is used. When known, the year of sale, transfer, or acquisition is included, as are the names of dealers who were instrumental in transactions during the artist’s lifetime. The names of auction houses involved are listed indirectly, in the entries for sale catalogues in the References section.
All works originated, of course, with the artist. For those acquired directly from the artist by the present owner there is, therefore, no provenance.
All exhibitions, regardless of the frequency of their citation, are referred to in abbreviated form, that is, by place and year. When more than one exhibition took place in a year in the same city, each is distinguished by the addition of a letter (for example, “London 1964a”). The key to these short titles follows the catalogue entries; it is also available online at www.barnettnewman.org, enabling the reader to view the catalogue entry and the cited exhibitions side by side. Full citations in chronological sequence appear in the Exhibition History section of this volume. These include exhibition catalogues; thus, the reader will find additional bibliographic information in that section.
Each citation includes either the number attributed to the work on exhibition or the annotation “unnumbered.” In the case of sculpture the specific exemplar exhibited, if known, is identified.
Illustrations in catalogues are documented in this section. Citations, as streamlined and sparse as possible, reflect many diverse, idiosyncratic publishing formats, consistency remaining an elusive goal. The abbreviation “ill.” refers to a black-and-white illustration. If we know that a reproduction is in color, that is specified. When an image is reproduced upside down or in reverse or when it has an incorrect caption, that fact is duly noted. If a catalogue essay is cited under References, the illustration of a work by Newman is mentioned again in that context.
Only the first venue of a traveling exhibition is given in the citation; subsequent venues are listed individually either when a differing catalogue was published or when the selection changed substantially between venues. The names of all venues, grouped chronologically, are given in the Exhibition History.
When a work was included in an exhibition catalogue but was not, in fact, exhibited, it is mentioned under Exhibitions and annotated accordingly. When a work was included in a given exhibition but not in the accompanying catalogue it is tagged “ex-catalogue.” If a work was not shown at all the venues, there is an annotation to that effect. Longterm exhibition of works in the public institutions that own them are not documented here.
Auction previews are not considered exhibitions. The relevant auction catalogue information is found under References.
All references, regardless of the frequency of their citation, are given in abbreviated form and listed first chronologically and then alphabetically within a given year. When more than one publication by the same author appeared in a year, each is distinguished by the addition of a letter (for example, “Hess 1971a”). The key to abbreviations following the catalogue entries—also available online at www.barnettnewman.org—offers complete bibliographical information and thus enables the reader to rank by importance the individual references. Citations include any type of publication, from monographs and general literature to essays in exhibition catalogues and periodical literature.
We have aimed for completeness in recording the critical reaction to Newman’s work early in his career, becoming selective in more recent times. References to a given work in the early days have been included regardless of length.
Reproductions are usually referred to by page numbers; at times, illustration or plate numbers are given either in addition or instead, reflecting the idiosyncrasies of individual publishers’ styling. These citations can be consistent only for each individual publication because each exhibition catalogue, to name just one category, follows its own logic. The guiding principle has been to enable the reader to identify conclusively a given image by the briefest reference.
When an author refers to a group of works, such as the five narrow untitled paintings of 1950 or the six paintings entitled “Onement,” the citation will appear in the entry for the first work, annotated accordingly (“about the group”).
Titles in strings (for example, “works, such as, Abraham, Covenant, Jericho . . . ”) have been ignored except when they occur in early publications or have some identifying importance. Reviews and articles that refer to a work only in general terms or are limited to a work’s physical description have often been omitted.
Whenever it was accessible, the first of multiple editions of a book is cited. In the case of reprinted literature, the original source is cited unless it is not readily available, in which case reference is made to the most recent reprint.
Reference works, as a rule, have not been considered for citations; neither have the typescripts of Ph.D. dissertations and Master’s theses in the archives of the Barnett Newman Foundation; they are, however, included in the Bibliography.
Literature published exclusively online has not been evaluated. Its pursuit is left to the reader and an efficient search engine.
Additional reproductions (up to 1970)
Recorded under this heading are reproductions of the artist’s work published in books and periodicals during his lifetime but not referred to in their context of publication.
Catalogue Raisonné