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The Invisible and the Unpresentable: Barnett Newman’s Abstract Expressionism and the Aesthetics of Merleau-Ponty

  • Galen A. Johnson
Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 75)

Abstract

Cézanne’s or Balzac’s artist is not satisfied to be a cultured animal but takes up culture from its inception and founds it anew: he speaks as the first man spoke and paints as if no one had ever painted before. … The artist launches his work just as a man once launched the first word, not knowing whether it will be anything more than a shout. (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Cézanne’s Doubt”)

Keywords

Aesthetic Experience Aesthetic Theory Abstract Express Ionism Qualified Recovery Abstract Painting 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Cézanne’s Doubt,” in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader: Philosophy and Painting, edited by Galen A. Johnson, translation editor Michael B. Smith (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1993, 1995), p. 69. Barnett Newman, “The First Man Was an Artist,” in Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews, ed. John P. O’Neill (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), pp. 158, 160.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. Véronique Fóti, “The Evidences of Painting: Merleau-Ponty and Contemporary Abstraction,” in Merleau-Ponty: Difference, Materiality, Painting, ed. Véronique M. Fóti (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1996), pp. 137–138.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid. p. 164.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jean-François Lyotard, “Philosophy and Painting in the Age of Their Experimentation: Contribution to an Idea of Postmodernity,” in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, op. cit., p. 335.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Harold Rosenberg, Barnett Newman (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers), p. 29.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., p. 37.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., p. 47.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ibid., p. 59.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ibid., p. 62.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence,” in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, op. cit., p. 93.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lyotard, “Philosophy and Painting in the Age of Their Experimentation,” op. cit., p. 331.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Eye and Mind, in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, op. cit., p. 147.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cf. Rosenberg, op. cit., pp. 244-245.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Merleau-Ponty, “Cézanne’s Doubt,” op. cit., p. 66.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence,” in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, Ibid. p. 68.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jean-François Lyotard, Discours, Figure, in The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader, op. cit., p. 312.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Newman, “The First Man was an Artist,” op. cit., p. 159.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ibid., p. 160.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Merleau-Ponty, “Cézanne’s Doubt,” op. cit., p. 67.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, edited by Claude Lefort, translated by Alphonso Lingis (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University press, 1968), p. 139 (French edition, p. 183).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lyotard, Discours, Figure, op. cit., p. 314.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis: Preface to Hesnard’s L’Oeuvre de Freud,” translated by Alden Fisher in Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. XVIII, Nos. 1, 2, and 3 (1982-83), p.71.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Jean-François Lyotard, “Beyond Representation,” in The Lyotard Reader, ed. Andrew Benjamin (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), p. 165.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Jean-François Lyotard, “The Sublime and the Avant-Garde,” in The Lyotard Reader, op. cit., p. 197.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Thomas B. Hess, Barnett Newman (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1971), p. 73.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ibid. p. 73.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Merleau-Ponty, “Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence,” op. cit., pp. 105, 106.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Merleau-Ponty, Eye and Mind, op. cit., p. 149.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fóti, “The Evidences of Painting: Merleau-Ponty and Contemporary Abstraction,” op. cit., p. 166.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lyotard, “Beyond Representation,” in The Lyotard Reader, op. cit., p. 166.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, op. cit., p. 257.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ibid., p. 153 (French edition, p. 200).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Rosenberg, op. cit., p. 21.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Merleau-Ponty, “Phenomenology and Analytic Philosophy (1960),” in Texts and Dialogues: Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hugh Silverman and James Barry, eds. (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1991), p. 66. This item originally appeared in French as “Phénoménologie contre The Concept of Mind” in La Philosophie analytique (Paris: Minuit, 1960).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty, In Praise of Philosophy, trans. John Wild and James Edie (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1963), pp. 26–27. (French edition: Eloge de la philosophie [Paris: Gallimard, 1953], p. 33).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Galen A. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Rhode IslandUSA

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