Harvard gets Barnett Newman cache

The Centre for the Technical Study of Modern Art, a research division of the Harvard University Art Museums, has been given Barnett Newman’s studio materials and related ephemera.

The Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation donated the materials to assist scholars in the collection, study and conservation of Newman’s paintings. The gift complements the University’s existing archive of Newman’s correspondence and works of art previously donated by his wife Annalee.

A leading member of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Newman’s monochromatic paintings, marked by single vertical bands which he called “zips”, have proven difficult to restore. In 1977 a team of conservators investigated Newman’s materials and painting techniques after a visitor to the Stedelijk Museum made five large slashes in the canvas of Cathedra (1951).

The gift, which includes discarded paint trials, notes, unpublished sketches, and cardboard models of his best-known sculpture, Broken Obelisk (1963), gives researchers technical information about the artist’s studio practice.

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