John Newman Seeks the Emotionally Charged in Wild Sculptures and Drawings
John Newman’s drawings serve as the source for the intricately wrought sculptures that have often come to define his practice. In the 1990s the artist began traveling widely, producing a series of drawings for ‘spectulative sculptures’, conceptualized while on the road. “This is where I first began to think of materials as metaphors, that all materials have meaning because of their particular properties along with their attendant associations.” When he returned home, he sought to turn these ‘travel notes’ into concrete entities. Newman’s featured Untitled (1998) drawing is one such early documents. A hovering golden orb radiates an electric energy, linking the two ends of an undulating, canary-colored loop. Pulled from a diverse range of sources, this work recalls both celestial mandala and technical treatise. Notably, it also serves as the mental design for the artist’s related sculpture Homespun (with aerogel) (1999), from his series by the same name.
Newman’s works on paper and sculpture are held within a number of public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He is the recipient of numerous honorifics and residences, including the Rome Prize, the Gugggenheim Foundation and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
John Newman is represented by Tibor de Nagy, New York. He will be the subject of an upcoming two-person show at Chapter NY, New York.
Image rights: Anonymous gift in honor of Agnes Gund
Von Lintel & Nusser, NY
Inspired by travels to Japan, Africa, and especially India, John Newman’s small and colorful abstract sculptures conjure images of fantastical sea creatures and shells with traces of assemblage, ceramics, and even jewelry. The wide range of materials the works encompass, from glass to tulle to stones, lends them a coarse texture, while their witty titles imbue a sense of playfulness. Newman is known for marrying elements of contemporary art with classical traditions and emotional content, a style born out of musings prompted by his mother’s death. “How can I make something that can bridge both the intellectually engaged formal rigor,” he asks, “and my desire to embrace and elicit an emotion without irony or without merely depending upon art historical precedence, to tackle something that [is] real?”
American, b. 1952, Flushing, New York, based in New York, New York