Work on Monday: Onement VI by Barnett Newman

Recreation of Barnett Newman's "Onement VI"
Recreation of Barnett Newman's "Onement VI" by Oliver Peterson

Around a year ago, on May 14, 2013, a painting by Hamptons visitor Barnett Newman, “Onement VI,” sold for $43.8 million. The large oil on canvas features a field of blue with a white stripe down the center. Going deeper, the piece is blue, with a white stripe. Not to be confused with his famous “Cathedra” (1951), which is also blue with a white stripe, “Onement VI” is not as rectangular.

Being that we were unable to secure a copyright-free image of “Onement VI,” Newman’s “Cathedra” painting is pictured below (though they are very, VERY different). Thankfully, has a team of master artists working in the office, and we have —despite the difficulty — recreated “Onement VI” above. This recreation, of course, is probably only worth about $24 million. VIEW THE REAL “ONEMENT VI” HERE

Onement VI
Barnett Newman (1905-1970)
Oil on canvas
102 x 120 inches (8.5 x 10 feet), 1953

Cathedra by Barnett Newman
“Cathedra” by Barnett Newman (like “Onement VI,” only longer), Photo: Autopilot (Wikimedia Commons)

Much like a high-end ping pong table, “Onement VI” features a field of blue with a white stripe down the center. A ping pong table has more than one white stripe.

Newman spent some time in East Hampton visiting the home and studio of fellow Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still (1904-1980).

When the piece was auctioned, setting a new record for nearly $44 million, Sotheby’s described it as such: Newman overwhelms and seduces the viewer with the totality of its sensual, cascading washes of vibrant blue coexisting with Newman’s vertical “Sign” of the human presence, his iconic and revolutionary “zip.”

The white stripe is a sign of the human presence and the blue is sensual in this $44-million painting, featuring a field of blue with one vertical white stripe. One vertical, humanly present, white stripe. The blue is sensual and cascading. It is a blue field with a white stripe. For $43.8 million.*

*[Truth be told, Barnett Newman did some fantastic work and was, in fact, a great painter — and people will pay anything to own a piece of such greatness, no matter how insane it may seem.]

Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.

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