‘Yellow painting’ from Washington provokes contemplation

THE National Gallery of Australia’s considerable modern American art collection has been boosted through a long-term loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Barnett Newman, 1905 – 1970, “Yellow Painting” 1949, oil on canvas, on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, originally gifted by Annalee Newman in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art.

Barnett Newman, 1905 – 1970, “Yellow Painting” 1949, oil on canvas, on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, originally gifted by Annalee Newman in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art.

“Yellow painting” was created in 1949 by the American Abstract Expressionist artist Barnett Newman and this loan provides Australian viewers with an opportunity to see his work in the context of the National Gallery’s own permanent collection, as, surprisingly, there are no paintings by Newman held in Australian public collections.

The artwork consists of a field of yellow paint, interrupted by narrow cream stripes down each side. These lines, or “zips” as Newman called them, divide the canvas and provide a spatial structure.

Newman’s ultimate intention was to provoke the viewer into a contemplation of new ideas about art and existence.

“We have a strong collection of American art from this period—including two paintings by Pollock, two by Rothko and two by Gorky but we want to show another aspect of the magnificent post-war American art movement at the National Gallery in Canberra,” NGA director Ron Radford said.

“The National Gallery is extremely fortunate to receive such a valued loan from our colleagues at another national gallery,” he added.

The painting will be on display in the Abstract Expressionist gallery at the National Gallery of Australia until early 2016.

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