The Three

The Three

“I believe that here in America, some of us, free from the weight of European culture, are finding the answer, by completely denying that art has any concern with the problem of beauty and where to find it. . . . We are reasserting man’s natural desire for the exalted, for a concern with our relationship to the absolute emotions.”

–Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman’s paintings establish relationships between areas of color. His use of vertical bands, or “zips,” as he called them, accentuate, divide, and activate sections of the painting. In The Three, the large black area seems static and split in half by the vertical line while the second line toward the right edge adds surprising movement to the composition. As Virginia Wright explained in a 2005 interview with the Seattle Times “color field painting was the continuation of—or the next generation’s answer to—abstract expressionism. It was not as personal and it celebrated color in a way abstract expressionism did not, being more calligraphic and painterly.”

Image: The Three, 1962, Barnett Newman, oil on raw canvas, 76 1/4 x 72 in., Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2015.6.