Selasa, 27 Juli 2010

Stations of the Cross

In my last blog, about the paintings of Barnett Newman, I mentioned seeing the big retrospective of his work at Tate Modern in 2003. One complete room of that exhibition was given over to one body of his work, a series of fourteen paintings, 'The Stations of the Cross', that he worked on over a period of eight years - from 1958 to 1966, and is widely considered his greatest masterpiece. These are large scale monochromatic works. At the Tate show I thought they were the best thing. Sitting in the room in low lighting surrounded by those works was an incredibly calming experience; they were my favourite thing in the show.
According to the artist, the paintings are not intended to express the succession of events found in traditional depictions of the Stations of the Cross. Instead they reveal the single moment when Christ cried out 'God, why have you forsaken me?' - 'Lema sabachthani', the subtitle Newman gave to the series.

1st Station of the Cross

3rd Station of the Cross

'It was while painting them that it came to me (I was on the fourth one) that I had something particular here,' Newman said. 'It was at that moment that the intensity that I felt the paintings had made me think of them as the Stations of the Cross.'

4th Station of the Cross

5th Station of the Cross

Newman had always defended the spiritual dimension of his work, and here, Christ's Passion becomes 'the cry of man, of every man', and perhaps a mirror of his own personal crisis. 'I tried to project something I felt was very real in relation to the Passion,' he said, 'and I feel that kind of suffering has gotten almost universal.' The series has also been interpreted as a memorial to the Holocaust and the tragedy of war.

7th Station of the Cross

8th Station of the Cross

12th Station of the Cross

13th Station of the Cross

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