Newman's painting, Vir Heroicus Sublimis is just one of many examples of his break from Abstract Expressionist traditions.
Vir Heroicus Sublimis features bold red colour. His use of bright shades like this is typical of the artist, who choose to make a statement with his choice of vivid paints, invading the thoughts of viewers with striking hues.
His canvas is seemingly separated into sections with vertical lines in various shades. These lines are thin and yet, they dilute the impact that would otherwise be had by the brilliant red.
Leaping Forward In Abstraction
The style seen in Vir Heroicus Sublimis was developed as a response to what Newman thought people in society needed at that time. What was to come in this painting was heralded in Onement I.
Newman saw Onement I as a leap forward in his work. It includes the main full incarnation of what he later called a zip. His zip is a vertical band of colour. Those same bands of colour are evident in Vir Heroicus Sublimis.
The Latin title of the painting means "man, courageous and eminent". The work endeavours to inspire a response from those viewing it with its staggering scale. It was Newman's biggest canvas at the time and positively emanated colour. Newman's work, for this reason, also falls under the subset of chromatic reflection.
His paintings are similar to that of Mark Rothko. Both artists utilise shading as their essential vehicle of expression. While Newman was an Abstract Expressionist, this makes his work different since he did not place emphasis on the imaginative procedure that was characteristic of other artists in that genre.
Newman shared the Abstract Expressionists' interests in myth and the primitive style. The reaction to his work, even from his fellow artists, was quiet when he initially displayed his style. It was not until much later on in his profession that he started to get approval from the artistic community.
In time, he turned into a touchstone for both Minimalists and Color Field painters. Commentator Thomas B. Hess said in 1959 that Newman changed in just a year from an untouchable into the father figure of two eras. Vir Heroicus Sublimis alludes to Newman's article written on the same theme.
Encouraging Positive Change
With both the painting and his essay he asks humanity to consider the idea that we are living in a period that can be called brilliant and we should think more about how we might make more beautiful craftsmanship. Newman trusted that the people who experienced his work would stand near it and have a unique physical experience. He wanted viewers to truly interact with his work and used scale to help his ideas make an impact. In this way, he hoped to influence their lives and from that, lead them to positively influence the lives of other people. He saw it as a meeting between him and the viewer that occurred through his paintings.
Newman trusted that the current world had rendered conventional craftsmanship subjects and styles invalid. To him, this was particularly important in the post-World War II years shadowed by strife, dread, and disaster. Newman stated that old guidelines of magnificence were unimportant. He felt that what was needed was something that would lift current mankind out of its torpor.
Newman's paintings were a conclusive break with the gestural reflection of his companions. Rather, he formulated an approach that abstained from painting's traditional restrictions of figure and ground. His zip is intended to connect the painting with the individual standing before it.
Vir heroicus sublimis was quite large. At 95 by 213 inches it was Newman's biggest painting at the time it was finished. He would go ahead to make considerably more far reaching works. He expected his groups of onlookers to view this and other extensive artistic creations from a nearby vantage point, permitting the hues and zooms to completely encompass them.
In this piece, which is more mind boggling than it at first shows up, Newman's zips are differently strong or faltering, making an immaculate square in the middle and deviated spaces on the edge. Mel Bochner, a craftsman who is known for his Conceptualist paintings, experienced it at the Museum of Modern Art in the late 1960s. He understood that its scale and shading made another sort of contact between the work of art and the watcher. He remarked that a lady standing there looking at it was seemingly held in place with red.
Bochner felt it was the light sparkling on the canvas that was reflected back, filling the space between the watcher and the work of art. This in effect made the space a unique place. What's more, the impression of the self of the work of art, the depiction as the subject pondered the watcher, was a completely new class of understanding. Newman imagined that people had a primal drive to make new things. He saw craftsmen, and himself, as the makers of the world and used his paintings to help drive the spirit of innovation in society.