Vir Herocius Sublimus – by Barnet Newman

Vir Herocius Sublimus - by Barnet Newman

Barnet Newman was a Newyork born abstract expressionist. The ‘Vir Herocius Sublimus’ was painted in the 1950-51 at a studio at 110 Wallstreet. This 8‘x18’ canvas was a radical leap for the artist in the matter of scale.He was an artist of color and not of form. He aimed at setting a mood and making people experience through the paintings and not sending a message. He believed that when artists struggled so hard to come up with an expression, viewers also should make an effort to understand the same. He wished for people to experience the painting and not read it.

The Vir Herocious Sublimus was painted using minimal colors. The artist added,what he called ‘Zips’ to his work to convey his expressions. Barnet always aimed at the deeper, more spiritual meaning to be conveyed through his work of art. The very fact that he chooses to use a single color to convey an expression seems rather bold. It is said that to achieve the perfect shade, the paintings were done in layers.It took numerous layers to achieve this shade of color. Though simplicity seems to be the key here. There is no denying that there is a great depth to this painting. From my understanding, this painting was made in the 1950’s which was right after the great depression.It is interesting to see that there is a completely fresh approach to the style of painting.It seems like the choice of color and of style is trying to invoke positive thoughts in the viewer, and is being quite successful in that aspect.The scale of the painting also seems to have an impact on the viewer. The bold color and the asymmetrically placed zips for me actually seem to be taking me through a journey in their own way. The opacity and the line weight also play a major part in the way it makes you read the painting. If you observe carefully, you start by noticing the bold color first, then on closer observation the zips are revealed. It seemed like stages of meditation to me. I stared at the painting for a while and made an effort to concentrate, but slowly that much effort didn’t seem necessary at all. The painting started talking to me and revealing itself,like the blooming petals of a flower.This makes it seem like a journey. The journey is experienced by the impact of color. It feels very empowering and positive, not peaceful, but hopeful. Makes me feel like a fighter, not a the evil kind but the heroic kind. There is a sense of power which seeps in my body every time I observe the painting. From my understanding the meaning is being conveyed pretty well. The understanding of Man, Heroic and Sublime is being conveyed to a very large extent. What intrigues me most is the impact of color Newman has managed to achieve.Its not ORANGE its not RED its a perfect shade of SUBLIMITY. I agree that the shade helps understand the exact impact of the artists impression. I have also come to notice that this is the same shade used in the robes meant for monks and spiritual people.It is difficult to say wether the impact of experiencing the painting has something to do with the pre acquired knowledge the above information or is it truly a whole experience by itself.


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