John Newman is an established artist living and working in New York City. He received a BA from Oberlin College, attended the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art and acquired an MFA from the Yale School of Art. He’s had solo and group exhibitions all over the world but primarily in the United States, Europe and Asia. Hi work is in many permanent collections including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria; The Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. He has also participated as influential faculty at a number of institutions, been artist-in-residence in a variety of places and has had numerous public commissions over his career.
John Newman started his career making large-scale sculpture and public works but his recent work from the 90’s onwards has largely dealt with an intimate scale. Rather than choosing to produce work that requires cranes, assistants and foundries, he choose to create sculptures that mostly fit upon a standard plinth. It’s a decision that might, at first, seem restrictive but I would argue has manifested work unbound by the limitations of engineering and cost.
In each piece, varieties of materials, gestures, textures, colours and forms meet one another. Individually, each sculpture employs a long list of materials including but not limited to bronze, glass, wicker, feathers, fire, paper, resin, brass, plexi and many others. Instead of specializing in one material, he exhibits an unusual ability to master many. Not only is this technically impressive, but his decisions for when to use certain materials is poetic and considered. These multifarious elements interplay as if dancing and talking. Their careful strides set up oblique beautiful allegories, and allude to their seemingly temporarily dormant ability to move and shift.
Newman’s material specificity speaks to a contemporaneous reality of difference communicating in a digital global era. Whilst simultaneously drawing in space, with graceful movement and insinuation like a Richard Tuttle, Newman refines his materials into an object that seems impossible and less referential of the pedestrian but rather of the celestial, organic and artificial.
Newman elaborates on how the intimate and cabalistic can express beyond its form and scale. In rejection of literary work, Newman creates objects that perform esoteric narratives extending from their unassuming states. The sculptures often take on circular forms and depict a type of transformation mirroring their aesthetic activity of offering a liquid interpretation.
Check out more of John Newman’s work here.
– Rachel MacFarlane