Friday, April 10, 2009

Shifting spaces of Barnett Newman's 'Cathedra'

"The problem of a painting is physical and metaphysical, the same as I think life is physical and metaphysical."
Barnett Newman

Newman’s 1951 painting ‘Cathedra’ measures 239.6 x 553.8 cm. The longer you gaze at this huge canvas the more the space shifts: from this particular canvas hanging in Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to the sky to an ocean in which one can float and stare at the sky, and to go back to the sky to stare at the ocean; or from this painted canvas to an aesthetic ethics and from an ethical aesthetic to theology; from epistemology to existentialism; from contingency and mortality to infinity; and from feelings of despair to hope. The sublime makes some people anxious. ‘Cathedra’ was vandalized – raped – a decade ago. The same aesthetic hooligan also put a knife in the heart of 'Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III' (1967) by the same artist in the same museum.

Here you can order a reproduction of 'Cathedra', the site claims that the painting is "faithfully recreated by hand using the finest art quality linen canvas and Winsor and Newton oil paints." The starting price is 259 US dollars...

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