How to paint like Barnett Newman – Vir Heroicus Sublimis (1950-51) | IN THE STUDIO

How to paint like Barnett Newman – Vir Heroicus Sublimis (1950-51) | IN THE STUDIO

Male: Guy walks into a bar. Sees the painter friend’s
client sitting down with a beer. Says, “Friends, you know I just came
from the new Barnet Newman show.” Client says, “Oh yeah, what do you think? I haven’t seen it yet.” Guy says, “You know, it
seemed pretty simple. Just a bunch of paintings with lines.” Client says, “Huh. These paintings,
they all the same color?” The guys says, “No.” “These paintings, they all the same size?” Guy says, “No.” “How about those lines?
They all the same color? Same size? Same placement?” Guy says, “No.” Client says, “Sounds pretty
damn complicated to me.” (piano music) In old master paintings,
figure ground relationships usually referred to the figure,
say the Virgin Mary and the ground. Either the gold ground, background
of an Italian panel painting, or perhaps the landscape that
is behind the Virgin’s throne. In Vir Heroicus Sublimis, Newman
has gotten rid of the Virgin. He’s also gotten rid of the landscape. What he’s retained, is the
illusionistic relationship between forms in space. Why are these lines vertical? It’s because when we relate to each other, we relate to each other,
largely as vertical forms. As soon as a mark is made on canvas, visually one thing is in front of another. Newman referred to these
things, if you will, as zips. And these zips are vertical lines which connect the upper and lower
edges of the painting. And in this example, the
far left of the painting, by looking closely we can actually see that the color of the zip
was actually painted first, underneath the color of the ground. So that you might say,
“Okay, a zip, a line, it’s certainly in front of the
ground, just like the Virgin is in front of the landscape behind her. However, by looking closely at this zip, you can realize that Newman
actually reversed that relationship because you’re seeing
that that zip is actually physically behind the ground. So, how did Newman do it? Newman almost always used masking
tape to construct his zips. Now what you’ll notice first, is
that I’ve painted a base coat. A very fleshy pink kind of color. One way that Newman made zips was to use masking tape over a base coat. Now removing the tape you’ll
see that the color of the entire painting has changed,
except for that area of the zip. Shifting gears and looking
at this very dark zip, towards the right side of the painting. This zip because it’s so dark
on such a bright painting, almost looks like it has a depth,
like it’s behind the red ground, as if you could look into that space. However, approaching the
painting and getting close, you realize that Newman has constructed
this zip in a different way. So that where that tape
bleeds under the masking tape, it’s actually going out from
the zip and into the red ground, meaning that physically that paint
is actually on top of the red ground. What we begin to get a picture of then, is that Newman is making all these
subtle adjustments to these zips. (piano music) None of them are the same. And none of them have
the same relationship, to the red ground of this painting. So when you stand from
a good viewing distance, away from the painting,
you realize that these zips are competing with each other
for your optical attention. So that one zip is quite loud
and hits you in the eye directly, while other zips may be just
flickering barely there, and are very, very slow to
attract your eye to them. In other words, there’s
a victorial dynanism. There’s a dynamic interaction
between these zips in space. (piano music) Newman invited the viewer
to be eighteen inches away from the painting. And because this painting is
so huge, when you do that, your entire field of vision is
dominated by the painting itself. (piano music)


  • Trey Fontenet says:

    what is the name of the song

  • srm8ib4 says:

    I thought Rothko was the one who said to view his paintings from 18 inches.

  • thesoni says:

    I've never heard so much bullshit come out of one man's mouth. Either that, or he's a borderline imbecile who is impressed with 3rd grade level "art". "Wow masking tape".

  • gavloft says:

    Pure talentless tripe

  • hakobart2 says:

    I hate when art is bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla…
    I can admire Rotko's works, but this is just bla, bla, bla, bla…

  • BathroomTile says:

    Go look at some illustrations. You're like a a gardener complaining that the Sports store doesn't sell shovels.

  • 55sarajevo says:

    much philosophy about anything.

  • MyloRen says:

    get out

  • _ says:

    I can pretend anything has deep meaning using the reasoning this guy did. The table across the room represents a defiant emotion due to the sturdy legs made of mighty oak. The table represents bravery as it will not shake nor will it run from any danger. This table is truth and power. I'll sell you this table for 40 million.

  • Don Emigholz Jr. says:

    What a lot of people do not understand is that the quality of oil paint can very significantly and what obviously has happened is that Barnett Newman and Rothko has been seduced by the color, the pigment of the paint. The mastery of their art is that they did not get in the way of the pigment and in subtle ways were successful enhancing it's over all beauty. Acquire a quality tube of oil paint in a color that pleases you and that alone can be wonderment.

  • Don Emigholz Jr. says:

    What a lot of people do not understand is that the quality of oil paint can very significantly and what obviously has happened is that Barnett Newman and Rothko have been seduced by the color, the pigment of the paint. The mastery of their art is that they did not get in the way of the pigment and in subtle ways were successful enhancing it's over all beauty. Acquire a quality tube of oil paint in a color that pleases you and that alone can be wonderment.

  • plank ton says:

    what wonderment!

  • Sergio Lobato says:

    Hey, the progress bar on this video looks like a zip……

  • Wenceslao Futanki says:

    Stop telling us that a simple exercise is a masterpiece, so many words you need to trick us while a simple van gogh dont need any brainwash to be loved because the work speaks by itself, dont need any "encouragement" from a third party to enjoy it.

  • JeffersonDinedAlone says:

    Coitus Absurdus.

  • JeffersonDinedAlone says:

    Is this jackass kidding? This is nothing.

  • JeffersonDinedAlone says:

    Anyone who falsely feels the need to approve comments is nothing but a coward who fears open discussion. Although, here there is nothing to discuss; what techniques? Masking tape and a condition of being semi-sober?

  • Ross says:

    The buyers are more concerned with who painted it rather than the actually "artwork(?)" 

  • chaosinorderrr says:

    Just a bunch of idiots reading into something that is clearly not there. Anyone can do this shit in MS Paint in less than 10 sec. This is not art.

  • Pharis Shajeer says:

    Wtf is this…

  • thepope says:

    Awesome 🙂

  • cyril satorsky says:

    Art babble describing the Emperor's new clothes…………..

  • Andrius Zel says:

    such art is a bulshuit

  • Hà Minh Trần says:

    I call BS.

  • Kenny T.K. Chow says:

    The way you explained it is brilliant. 🙂

  • Joe Butcher says:

    Sad to see such negativity in the comments here. Your understanding of art is your own, and fair enough if you don't enjoy an artist or a style, but you're not the only person who has an opinion.

    If you don't like it, find something you do like, and consider why you like it, surely it has weaknesses too that other people would pick up on? So how would you feel if half of the audience of the thing you like spent their time attempting to rip it apart.

    Anyway. I need to watch the rest of these videos.

  • Electric Napalm says:

    Dude, I feel like, so zipped right now.

  • Trinca Ciprian says:

    I would like someone to make a fake and put some those "experts" to tell which is the original…

  • cosmai23 says:

    Yes, anyone can do it, but HE thought of it. That's the art.

  • Bruce Lee Hazelwood says:

    hey! these painting weren't meant for you to understand! they were speaking to the people who were alive when they were created…everyone is so fucking entitled when it comes to history – yes we know you could paint this but it was RELEVANT to the people who experienced back then – yes it might not be relevant to you now but thats not an excuse to open your mouth and spew shit everywhere – 

  • SigmaSixxx says:

    "The illusionistic relationship between forms in space." Is this fellow referring to the same Newman who repudiated the idea of a painter as 'a sort of choreographer of space'? The same Newman who would have flipped his lid at the comparison this curator makes to Giacometti? The same Newman who said that aesthetics was to artists as ornithology was to the birds? I'm absolutely blown away by the fact that this fellow is standing in front of Newman paintings for this exhibition saying things that would have made Newman go red in the face and write his characteristic angry correction letters. Newman was not Mondrian. He was not playing with space. He wrote reams and reams on this, and so did every critic who came to understand his work. Where was this man educated?

  • ArtesVives says:

    i'm dizzy…caravaggio paintings don't need words 😀 they speak for themselves..and they speak wonders 🙂

  • MrYib says:

    The Emperor is naked and no-one wants to tell him.

  • Shantkumar Hattarki says:

    very good command on application of colors and technics, nice to see this demo.

  • Alexander Petrohv says:

    the unknown planet called modern art. fortunately there are famous artists, who clearly dont believe those claims, and created a different view, for example beuys. so people are partly right not to believe it. but if you love it, have fun.

  • Iain Drennan says:

    excellent video.

  • orange circle says:

    Brilliant stuff.

  • bonec120 says:

    Whoever says, bullshit, easy, oh I can do that as well, sounds like bunch of idiots. How pathetic! You think it's bullshit, easy, you can do it, just because someone else shows you how to do it. It's for sure easy for anyone to become a copy cat. In the case of becoming a creator, it's not that easy. You need to try for so many times and gain so many experiences in order to know exactly which colours you want to use for the background and the zips, to know the exact dimensions of the painting you are going to do, and to know the exact composition of the painting that could show the viewers your thoughts and emotions all at the same time. Before you say it's easy, think twice. Just the facts that he spent his entire life on this masterpiece and the courage to be himself win you in a thousand of ways.

  • Nutwit says:

    Art is an aesthetic and intellectual practice that anyone can do, not just ancient masters. Yes, the old masterpieces are works of immense effort, but the effort itself is not what makes the works artistic; it's the aesthetic qualities which endure to this day, and the intellectual talking points that poke up around them. If you make something that someone else finds aesthetically or intellectually pleasing, then you have made art, no matter what a bunch of stuffy old prescriptivists say.

  • G. D. says:

    To everyone saying that it's just a bunch of lines: Do you also think that Beethoven's Concertos are just a bunch of strings making noise without lyrics or narrative, and thus, are devoid of meaning and emotional impact?

  • Katia says:

    I can totally understand the analysis of such work…That the lines are competing, the paint is edged, or smudged in a beautiful way, or the finish of the paint is saying something…But when it comes to this point, where the artistic value is in the behavior of the paint or the distance between two lines, it begins to feel like we're crediting the artist not for their work, but for the laws of the natural world. When you say the beauty lies in the way a darker color looks receded in contrast to a lighter one, or the way paint has dripped down a canvas…These things are really not the doing of the artist. They're the doing of the human eye…Gravity. You could walk up to a cement wall and say the same things: "Get up close and look how the greyness engulfs your field of vision. Look how when you look skywards the lines of the building slant inwards. Check out the texture of the wall, so detailed, no two areas the same." This is just the nature of life. Sure, the artist came up with this idea, but where is their contribution in the execution? What MORE have they done that could not be done by a 'lesser' artist? A non-artist? What is their contribution other than mimicking things that already exist? There are certain processes – like throwing paint on a canvas, mixing a solution, or painting over tape and ripping it up – that have the same effect, regardless of the person executing them. I mean, where does the threshold lie? What is art and what just "is"?

  • Isaiah John says:

    When I first looked at this painting I thought ugh this isn't art anyone could do this. But seeing how it was created got me really interested for some reason. Like I really wanna try it for myself, and I appreciate what he created.

  • S B says:

    guys I'm just watching this because I have to answer questions for my art homework lol

  • Joseph Victory says:

    Although i disagree with the current directions of modern art (for example, i love realistic or leaning impressionistic landscapes).

    I dont think its about who "thought of this" first or that. The reality is that abstract expression is a 'real' process of deduction and deconstruction of forms.

    For me it seems like modern abstract expressionist art is just an exhaustive exploration of these deconstructions as they relate to personal philosophies, experiences or worldviews.

    While personally i find many of the paintings extremely simple and somewhat insulting to my senses. It is clear that none of them are accidental and are a very real progression or branch of abstract expressionist art philosophy. I think it is less about combining everything together into a concrete 'larger' picture or context and more about analyzing one very tiny aspect in great resolution with respect to itself.

    I will never buy one of these pieces except perhaps as a pragmatic investment. I far prefer landscapes / seascapes or paintings with clear religious motifs.

    I think a big reason why people believe paintings like this is garbage, is because they are not philosopher artists who are interested in expanding the realm of art philosophy. Rather they are consumers interested in something broadly popularly attractive and attached to classical cultural motifs of status. As such, are less interested in some ephemeral intellectual stimulation and more directly interested in something relatable and narrative.

    Personally i have no contempt for art philosophy. I really especially love these videos. even if i do not care (possessively) for the works, i still love the process and your excellent presentation by example. Your broad knowledge of art is inspiring

  • Olga Maria Carcamo says:

    Satie ♥

  • Niall McGrath says:

    Not everyone can do this, and most people never do. They just talk and post their frustration here instead. Of course Caravaggio and Van Gogh were brilliant, but that doesn't make this bad.

  • Peter Reck says:

    very regrettable that those who have no access to the richness of art, and especially this type of art, come out and need to display their capability to demonstrate their use of fowl language, and put out demeaning comments ……………..feeling discouraged about that but encouraged about the artwork!

  • Sky The Terrible says:

    I guess my style of painting isn’t the only one! I paint very similar to this. I use masking tape, I start out with a base coat, and then add some “zips.” But instead of vertical lines I sometimes add squares and rectangles.

  • Oblique Frontline says:

    I like this. Ilike Newman

  • Talie T says:

    Hi Corey. Thanks for your informative and brilliant videos. Question: Why did he paint all the canvas when he was going to cover it with another paint? Why did he just paint the area which was going to be the location of the zip? He could have saved loads of paints.

  • The Red Pilgrim says:

    Awesum! Thank you

  • Alan Huntley says:

    If you were the first to make a table and then attribute those qualities to it you to could have changed world perception, but you did not, he did.

  • Paola Sagredo says:

    what´s the name of the song?



  • Anthony Reimche says:

    Could someone please list the beautiful piano music played during the video? Thanks!

  • seigeengine says:

    Imitation is easy. Innovation is hard.

    Being able to copy an idea upon seeing it does not mean you possess the cleverness of the person who thought it up. I'm pretty sure everyone in their life has had someone show them a way of doing something that seems so simple, yet they had never thought of it themselves.

  • zofink says:

    Corey D'Augustine is such a wonderful guide in these videos. I honestly could listen to him all day! Bravo

  • Wollie says:

    minecraft music?

  • NELSON X says:

    "The supreme misfortune is when theory outstrips performance."
    Leonardo da Vinci.

  • AndreZ 0103 says:

    The background song on the end is from minecraft lmao

  • TheyBLK says:

    I guess my problem with this work isn't necessarily because it doesn't compare to "master artists" but because it seems… unoriginal and lazy? I don't know if lazy is the word to use. But it just seems like the art world loves to give an irrationally high value to things that don't take particular skill or even a lot of thought. His explanation just seems far off. I needed him to tell me that vertical lines meant relationships and something about Jesus and that is why people think this painting's supposed commentary is worth millions of dollars…. It just sounds like a scam. And don't get me wrong I think some modern art is great and can invoke something and stir people's emotions. But this just sounds like "okay I made this now lemme write about how deep it is so it can become a rich person's most prized possession."

  • Kelly Merrill says:


  • Wyatt Olson says:

    How did he do it? He painted a canvas red and put stripes on it?

  • Squip says:

    Aesthetically i think it looks really neat but i don’t think i can see any sort of “meaning” beyond that.

    Still a cool painting though

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