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The Processes and Materials of Abstract Expressionist Painting

Discover the innovative tecniques of Abstract Expressionist painters


The Voice

Barnett Newman
(American, 1905–1970)

1950. Egg tempera and enamel on canvas, 8' 1/8" x 8' 9 1/2" (244.1 x 268 cm)

Barnett Newman is best known for painting vast fields of solid color interrupted by “zips,” or thin, vertical stripes. In this work, a white expanse is punctuated by an off-center, darker white zip. The work’s title, The Voice, seems to contradict the purity and silence of this work’s palette.

For this piece, Newman applied a thin, even layer of egg tempera and enamel so that the painting’s only texture is the weave of the canvas visible beneath the paint. He used masking tape to delineate the edges of the zips. Newman intended for his paintings to be viewed from only a few feet away, allowing the monumental scale of the canvas to engulf the viewer.

A type of paint in which pigment is mixed with a water-soluble binder, such as egg yolk.

Cotton or linen woven cloth used as a surface for painting.

A type of paint made from very fine pigments and resin that form a glossy surface. Also, the application of this paint to a material in order to create a smooth and glossy surface.

Multimedia

SLIDESHOW: See visitor snapshots of Barnett Newman paintings in the MoMA galleries.