Bulletin #3 – Peeling Back Robert W. Newmann: Narrative Portfolio


Bulletin, art paper, Robert W. Newmann, portfolio


Droste Effect presents: Bulletin, a non-academic, curated online publication. Monthly on Droste Effect magazine

Bulletin #3. Peeling Back Robert W. Newmann: Narrative Portfolio by Antonia Dapena-Tretter



Unpacking Robert W. Newmann’s portfolio requires a layered approach with equal attention paid to biography, aesthetics, and the larger art market of the 1970s to the present. These diverse methodologies intertwine to reveal the artist’s surprising rejection of the Washington Color School tradition of ethereal stained canvases in favor of the real space of large-scale installations. Literal layers—taking the form of pigment added to the canvas or inches of substrate sandblasted away—separate Newmann’s art from that of his teachers and serve as a common thread, tying together enormous shifts in practice and medium. Although each period of the artist’s oeuvre reinforces his strong attraction to the experiential, the unexpected challenges of wedding an artwork to the space around it ultimately drove Newmann to accept and embrace the unavoidable nature of the immaterial.

About the author:

Antonia Dapena-Tretter graduated summa cum laude with her BA from Dickinson College and her MA in Art History from the University of Toronto. While lecturing and publishing on contemporary art, she maintains a real passion for Colorfield painting which stems from her time working on the Jack Bush Catalogue Raisonné. Drawn to object-oriented scholarship, she has since made a career in the museum field at institutions such as The Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C., and The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

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