Grand Opening: Barnett Newman
As a welcome gift for the first 50 visitors to our grand opening today, Gallery Xue has created a virtual reproduction of Barnett Newman’s 1963 sculpture Broken Obelisk.
Barnett Newman (1905 – 1970)
Physical Original: 7.5 x 3.2 x 3.2 m, Cor-Ten Steel
Virtual Reproduction: Scaled at 150%: 11.25 x 4.8 x 4.8 m, Cor-Ten Pixels
Because avatars are generally taller than physical humans, and because I believe our gaze in the virtual world is slightly above the horizon line whereas most people in the physical world gaze, I think, slightly below the horizon line, I have chosen to make this a 1.5 scale reproduction, which I think will “feel” about right in terms of the sensation of Newman’s original.
Here’s what MOMA Curator Ann Temkin had to say about Broken Obelisk:
The obelisk is a form from ancient Egyptian art that was a memorial. And what you have here is the top of the obelisk kissing, in a sense, the top of the pyramid—another Egyptian form—its bottom jaggedly cut midway, facing upward to the sky. This is a sculpture, which stands on its head, literally.
Made in 1967—a time of great unrest in the United States—what Newman is achieving here is a memorial form, which is not a memorial to anything in particular. There is this idea of soaring aspiration unfulfilled, a lament for a time that isn’t any more one of heroes, but one of assassinations, of broken dreams, disappointments, hopes. I think it reflects Newman’s democratic, fundamentally populist political feelings, very much wanting to invent a symbol that represents everybody.
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