A big thanks to Tibor de Nagy Gallery for permitting us to publish this beautiful John Newman catalog on our site, made available to you in C-Library. If you are already a member, view the catalogs, or begin your 30-day free trial.
Feature Image: John Newman, In the Red and on the Hot Seat, 2014, extruded and fabricated copper with enamel paint, wood, wood putty, paper mache, Japanese paper, steel, wire, acqua resin, acrylic and oil paint
Essay by Phong Bui
New York: Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 2014
This 2014 catalog showcases Newman’s extreme dexterity at combining multiple materials. He utilizes metals, ceramic, wood, paint, chalk, foam, hariko (a Japanese form of paper mache) and more. In fact, so many materials that it leads me to wonder why? Why is the material list so long? What is this guy trying to prove?
The first thing that strikes me about Newman’s work is its agility. In Hanging in There With A Shiny Center, from the base to the tip top of the form, it seems Newman has twisted in every direction until he found that perfect equilibrium of leaning and hanging.
Newman’s sculptures are objectively peculiar because of their ability to be made of many things, yet to find balance in color, materiality, and composition, similar to the work of Richard Slee or Leopold Foulem. Like both of those artists and many of their contemporaries, Newman was probably greatly inspired by Minimalism in his youth, but turned elsewhere to work within a more imaginative and less restrictive territory. His wide breadth of color and material allows the artist to create an object neither wholly abstract, nor merely representational, but yes, a little bit of each. Each material he utilizes, may it be glass or bronze, drags its own process and historical baggage to the artwork. In Hanging In There With a Shiny Center, quartz is a distinct material, leading one to believe the piece is about passage of time.
“… [Newman’s] sculptures marry organic and geometric grammars and provide access to what Duchamp called the fourth dimension- a space defined by speculation. His work encourages us to look beyond what we think we know, and to revel in what is out there.” -Steel Stillman
“Newman’s eclectic heterogeneity appears to embody complete acceptance–of stylistic impurity as well as the artist’s own irrational impulses. No interpretive frame would seem to be off limits. No interpretive frame would seem to be off limits. Yet his work is difficult to talk about without diminishing its reach. These sculptures are certainly irrepressible, but Newman’s art much be understood as the sum of its refusals. There is a strictness lurking here that is crucial; specific objects have a legacy in peculiar objects.” – Carroll Dunham