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Barnett Newman belonged to a group of artists whose work has been classified as “Chromatic Abstraction” which just means they used large chunks of plain color.

This was the flip side of what the likes of Jackson Pollock were mucking about with, which was dripping and splattering lots of colors everywhere. Newman was pals with like-minded painter Mark Rothko, and in the 1930’s they would all hang at another artist’s place reading poetry and making live drawings. Very artsy fartsy affairs. 

Newman had to work as a substitute art teacher at high schools in New York, and made a frugal $7.50 a day! Though it couldn’t have been all bad, since this gig lead him to meet his future wife, Analee Greenhouse, at a faculty meeting. Analee was the sole bread-earner for a while, since poor Barney repeatedly failed his art teacher exams.

His luck definitely changed later on in 1948 when he started painting those planes of color divided and/or united by his trademark “zips".  In the 1960’s, he finally shared some of the spotlight with Pollock and others and made some serious dough. Newman’s painting, Black Fire, sold for the humble sum of $84.3 million earlier in 2014. Too bad Barney snuffed it, like, 40 years before he saw any of that lettuce.



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Here is what Wikipedia says about Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman (January 29, 1905 – July 4, 1970) was an American artist. He has been critically regarded as one of the major figures of abstract expressionism, and one of the foremost color field painters. His paintings explore the sense of place that viewers experience with art and incorporate simplistic forms to emphasize this feeling.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Barnett Newman