Modes for Moderns…


“My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined.” This artist statement by French symbolist painter, Odilon Redon, really encapsulates the Modernist movement and its break with traditional means of organizing literature, painting, and music…

Kafka, Kandinsky, Joyce, Mondrian, and Stravinsky represent modernist ideals and creativity abound! Many of our current roster of great minds and creators have been touched indubitably by this movement. By rejecting tradition, modernists are free to express and experiment and disregard conventional methodology.

One such widely unheralded voice is that of Barnett Newman, a master of the color field painters (think: Albres, Klee, Miro). New York born and based, his studies of color separated by thin vertical lines, or “zips” as Newman called them. In the first works featuring zips, the color fields are variegated, but later the colors are pure and flat. Newman himself thought that he reached his fully mature style with the Onement series (from 1948). The zips define the spatial structure of the painting, whilst simultaneously dividing and uniting the composition.

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