Examine Barnett Newman’s “Achilles,” painted in 1952. A broad swath of brilliant red paint sweeps down the center of the canvas and ends in an irregular, jagged edge. Notice the exterior straight-edged bands of blackish-brown color. Newman painted these after the red, rendering them uniform and opaque. Intensely radiant, the hot red tonality contrasts sharply with the dark perimeter and seems to advance optically. What’s one word or phrase you might use to describe this painting?
Barnett Newman, “Achilles,” 1952, oil and acrylic resin on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Annalee Newman, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art