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Onement VI (1953)
By Barnett Newman
Size: 8.5 x 10 feet
Estimated price: $30-40 million

Sotheby’s next sale of Contemporary Art is to include the most important painting by Barnett Newman ever to appear at auction. Onement VI from 1953 stands as a masterwork not only of Newman’s artistic enterprise but of the entire Abstract Expressionist movement.

The vast 8.5 by 10 feet canvas overwhelms the viewer with layers of vibrant blue intersected by a vertical ‘zip’. Onement VI is the final, largest and most definitive work in the venerated series of six paintings. The characteristic ‘zip’ running down the centre of the canvas is considered a turning point in the artist’s practice and was formed by using tape to allow the pigment to bleed irregularly into the central area.

Newman gave Onement VI to his wife Annalee in December 1953 and it remained in her collection for nearly a decade and later entered the prestigious collection of Frederick and Marcia Weisman. The painting has been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and in 1961 Vogue published the famous photograph of the artist with the painting.

Other paintings in the series are held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford and the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Ohio.

Sotheby’s New York Evening Sale of Contemporary Art will be held on May 14.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 28, 2013.