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A world for us: On the prefiguration of reconciliation in Barnett Newman’s painting

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In his essay on Barnett Newman in Painting as Model, ‘Perceiving Newman’, Bois accounts for the appeal of Newman’s address by positing that the artist’s work invokes ‘a world-for-us, neither the “objective” world described by mathematics or physics nor a kind of mythic space that one could [...] thematise with symbols and ideographs’. However, in this article it is contended that this ‘world-for-us’ is prefigured through the experience of decisive otherness. While Bois cites Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s early opus Phenomenoloy of Perception in ‘Perceiving Newman’, in this article Merleau-Ponty’s late writing is read via the aesthetic theory of Theodor W. Adorno to discuss how the in-itselfness of Newman’s art bindingly engages elements of experience that capitalism dismisses in favour of profit as the fundamental determinant of everyday life.
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Keywords: Barnett Newman; Immanuel Kant; Maurice Merleau-Ponty; Theodor Adorno; abstract expressionism; phenomenology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent Researcher

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • Journal of Contemporary Painting responds to the territory and practice of contemporary painting in its broadest sense, viewing painting as a context for discussion, exploring its sphere of history and influence, rather than as a medium specific debate. The JCP combines a thematic approach with an open call, each issue opening up and problematising pressing concerns in contemporary painting.

    As well as contributions to current debates on contemporary art, a particular feature of the Journal of Contemporary Painting is the publication of archival or newly translated texts alongside current responsive articles, based on the premise that contemporary painting cannot be understood without reflecting on its history. Dedication to understanding the nature and forms of painting research has also led to the inclusions of an original visual essay for every edition. Additionally we respond to current exhibitions, books and symposia, nationally and internationally, in our reviews section.

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