I decided I wanted to recreate this series as a series of cutting boards. At the risk of sounding a bit flip, I thought it'd look really cool as I liked the imagery, but also I wanted to delve a bit more into the meaning of the piece.
The inspiration of the piece was Jesus' outcry from the Cross - "lema sabachthani" - "why have you forsaken me?" The whole piece questions the nature of suffering and it's existence.
I think what makes Newman interesting is that it is so abstract, yet in the process of recreating these pieces, I see his logic behind them. They're not "just stripes" - the distances and widths between elements are consistent across the series (and he created these works over a span of eight years - from 1958 to 1966). There's a logic to be discovered.
They're also intended to ask a question and foster a conversation. The scale at which they're painted (about 6' tall) doesn't really lend itself to that. I saw the show at the National Gallery in 2013 and was thrilled, but a hushed room and security telling you to not take pictures or get too close makes it lose something.
I liked the contrast of a serious subject and the thought that these could be used while entertaining and would be talked about. In the same spirit, another favorite artist of mine, Clyfford Still, hated the idea of museums. Bad for the art. Get rid of the sanctity. Sort of. And live with the work.
I donated a set to the spring ArtBridge auction, and glad to think that they're now in someone's home.