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Coverdown: Freewheelin 208 / Freewheelin-on-line take 10
 

freewheelin-on-line take 10 cover

 

The backdrop  to the last cover of Freewheelin for 2002 is taken from one of the last paintings by the American Abstract Expressionist painter Barnett Newman (1905-1970). The painting is entitled ‘BE I (Second version)’ and was painted by Newman in the last year of his life. It is also the last painting in the Barnett Newman exhibitions that were held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art between March and July 2002 and the Tate Modern, London between September 2002 and January 2003. 

Newman’s paintings have a distinctive style – they are usually vast expanses of colour that have a vertical line or ‘zip’ that split the compositions into sections. Those ‘zips’ could represent all manner of images, from a light giving source to the separation of man from God to the division of race to the break down of a relationship or of a mind. As the following extract from the introduction to the Tate Modern collection suggests however, it is impossible to properly represent the emotion of these paintings by reproduction:

‘Newman’s paintings are impossible to grasp from reproductions. They require us to stand before them, close enough to experience all their nuances of colour and structure’. 

Newman himself often compared the ‘visual experience of the painting’ to an ‘encounter . . .with a person, a living being’. 

We encounter three persons who are standing in front of ‘BE I(Second Version)’. The first is Bob Dylan, actually only the left side of Bob Dylan, separated as he is by Newman’s zip from the other side of his Gemini twin. The other two people are from the Monty Python team, one of whom appears to be pointing straight at you but actually the way he his holding his forefinger and thumb together may mean that he has just stood in front of a Barnett Newman painting and has measured the width of a ‘zip’!

 

Theo Casamegas

 
 
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