Coverdown: Freewheelin' 210 / Freewheelin'-on-line take 12

freewheelin-on-line take 12 cover


This is the last of my trilogy of covers involving the work of the American Abstract Expressionist painter Barnett Newman. The work represented here is taken from a series of paintings that are considered to be Newman’s greatest masterpiece. This series of paintings occupied Newman between 1958 and 1966 and he called the series ‘Stations Of The Cross’. The background to this months cover, those two black, bold vertical bands, or ‘zips’, is the painting completed in 1964 and has the title: ‘Eighth Station.’ 

Although completed 37 years ago, the thinking behind Newman’s series of paintings is particularly pertinent to world events of early 2003. Newman’s masterpiece is explained further in the tour guide to the exhibition of his works in London in 2002/2003: ‘According to the artist, the paintings are not intended to express the succession of events found in traditional depictions of the Stations of the Cross. Instead they reveal the single moment when Christ cried out ‘God, why have you forsaken me?’ – ‘Lema Sabachthani’, the subtitle Newman gave to the series. Newman had always defended the spiritual dimension of his work, and here, Christ’s Passion becomes ‘the cry of man, of every man’. He said: ‘ I tried to project something I felt was very real in relation to the Passion, and I feel that kind of suffering has gotten almost universal’. 

In my cover, sitting between Newman’s two black, bold vertical ‘zips’ of the Eighth Station is the office tyrant David Brent. Now he could represent another tyrant who is currently playing with fire on the world’s stage: but as the tyrant forms his right hand into the shape of a gun, will he be firing his gun in attack or to defend?  The picture of Dylan is from 1964, the year this painting was completed.  Dylan’s trumpet then sounded a fanfare for the common man but perhaps now he could be about to play, or has just finished playing, ‘The Last Post’. The smaller image is of Barnett Newman himself, a visionary.


Theo Casamegas