Blog Menu

Studio Sunday: Barnett Newman

A photograph of Barnett Newman in his studio


This Sunday, let’s step inside the studio of Barnett Newman. Newman is best known as a major artist of the American abstract expressionism movement, and one of the first artists to delve into color fields as a style of painting. Newman’s works are mostly vast in size, with the entire canvas often covered in a single color of paint, occasionally broken up by vertical lines that the artist called “zips.”


I really enjoy this photo of Newman in his studio because the nature of the space seems to reflect the simplicity of his paintings. This photo might have been taken earlier in the artist’s career, before he began working on the monumental, room sized paintings that he is known for. The artist himself cuts an imposing, yet oddly friendly figure in the photograph, and I love the aesthetic of the smoke spiraling away from Newman’s face. He’s very much posed to reflect the brooding, masculine figure that was so heavily associated with the rock-star artists of his time.


Aside from the few paintings leaning on the wall and Newman himself sitting contemplatively, this studio space seems quite clean and simple. It reminds me a bit of the brick-walled space of On Kawara, whose work came a little after Newman’s but who likewise worked in an urban, New York City studio. I wonder what the view was like from the window pictured to Newman’s left, here.


Barnett Newman died in 1970 at the age of 65. His work is considered to have been ahead of its time, and Newman was widely underappreciated as an artist during his lifetime. However, he proved to be an important influence to artists such as Donald Judd and Frank Stella.

[image source]

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. She is a recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she studied Critical and Cultural Practices. She is passionate about talking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In her studio practice she is a painter, but she considers herself an art writer and educator foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises

Read more of Dallas' posts

Make your art portfolio easy

and focus your time on making art.


Try free for 30 days. No payment required.