The single bands that were typical of Newman’s paintings became known as “zips”. Even though they may pass off as non-descript, the zips were drenched in rich, bright colours to attract the audience.
The Wild was viewed as a piece that went out of the norm of abstract and redefined what a painting can do. It is 8 feet tall, 1 ½ feet wide and deep, which was a huge contrast from the previous Newman piece, Vir Heroius Sublimis, measuring 8 feet tall by 18 feet wide.
Newman’s paintings are known for their imposing presence, so the size of The Wild was unexpected. The painter said that his pieces were not about the size but scale. A painting only has to have the proper composition to elicit the right emotions, even when it was not a large in proportion.
Painted in 1950, the Wild debuted in Newman’s second exhibition in 1951 as an untitled piece, as he did with all his other works. It got its title almost ten years later. The Wild is designed such that viewers have to get close to enjoy its contents.
Spectators are forced to respond physically to the piece by leaning in and sidling up, just enough to see the skinny painting without getting a warning from the gallery staff. Newman experimented with his signature zips in different ways from the band going at the centre to painting it off-centre to having more than two bands on one piece.
The Wild was a minimalist approach to his zip design. Barnett wanted to see how he could get away with a small, large-scale painting.
American artist Barnett Newman was a notable contributor to the abstract expressionism school of art. His prowess in colour field painting also made him an expert in the area. Before he started doing his own pieces, Newman wrote catalogues for galleries and museums.
His first solo exhibition was in 1948 at the Betty Parson Gallery. His focus on minimalism and use of flat colour is associated with Frank Stella. Donald Judd and Bob Law are other artists that were influenced by Newman’s works.