Riddle Me This : Color Field


Barnett Newman was influential in the art movement known as color field and his use of zips.  Mark Rothko was also a key artist in the movement.  

Choose one work by each artist to answer the questions below

  1. Identify how their art illustrated the philosophy of color field.
  2. Do you like this type of work? Why or Why not?
  3. Does knowing the background of the artist and the philosophy  change how you view the work? 
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13 Responses to Riddle Me This : Color Field

  1. Samantha Kosziollek says:

    Barnett Newman was influential in the art movement known as color field and his use of zips. Mark Rothko was also a key artist in the movement. Color Field Art is an abstract expressionist style that evolved during the 1950s. It uses a field of color to evoke an emotional or aesthetic reaction in the viewer. Newman’s “Vir Heroicus Sublimis” and Rothko’s ‘Orange and Red’ pieces illustrate the philosophy of color field because both works do not necessarily have a story behind them. Instead, the only thing found would be colors and rectangles. The colors themselves evoke a lot of emotion, whether it be happiness or depression. This is not my favorite type of art because my brain automatically needs to “put a face” on the work. In other words, I need to be able to put together a story behind the art. Knowing the background of the artist and the philosophy do not change my view of the work. I assumed the art displayed a lot of emotion, but I still need a story engulfed by the emotions.

  2. Randy Edwards says:

    Color field is abstract art, which has no exact idea behind the art work. Newman’s and Rothko’s art pieces both illustrate color field because their art doesn’t have exact meaning to it. All you see are the colors they choose to use, and you do the rest. The possibilities are endless! This particular art has impacted me in a good way. I like to have the freedom of choosing what to think of art works. Knowing the background of the artists only increases my passion for their work. These works truly are incredible!

  3. Juan Lopez says:

    The artists Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko illustrated the art color field by showing that this art was abstract. In this type of art all you see is color and no defiant picture thus that means that the painting has no story behind it and its up to the viewer to interpret the painting. Personally this isn’t a type of work that I like, I don’t like it because its very vague and if you don’t know much about the artist then you might now know what the artist is trying to make you think. Knowing the background and philosophy doesn’t change my view because I feel confused when I can’t come up with a story in a painting, if I just see different colors I will not be engulfed in the painting.

  4. Yassmine Issa says:

    Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko are two key artists in the art movement known as color field. The painting ‘Orange and Yellow’ portrays the concept of color field because this painting doesn’t really have a story behind it and it causes you to reflect your emotions to try to create something to go along with it. The painting ‘Adam’ also does a lot to portray the philosophy of color field because it does have a meaning behind it but uses different shades of the same color and zips to tell it. I don’t like this type of art because for me to understand what the artist was trying to say, there has to be a story behind it and even if I was supposed to create a story with my own emotions, I still wouldn’t completely understand what the artist was trying to do. Knowing the background and philosophy of the art and art movement doesn’t change my feelings about the art because for me, to be interested in art, I would like to learn about the story behind it and see what the artist does to present the story and color field requires you to try to make your own story with your thoughts and feelings.

  5. Karina Escalante says:

    Barnett Newman was important in the art movement that is known as color field. His artwork “Adam” illustrates the philosophy of color field because the colors and use of zips are what make it meaningful. Unlike most artwork representing color field, this work does have a meaning behind it, but the use of colors and lines helps to emphazise the real meaning. Mark Rothko is an artist in the color field movement as well. His painting “Orange and Yellow” illustrates the philosophy of color field entirely because it is not meant to have any meaning and just allows the viewer to express their feelings when they see it. I like these kinds of paintings because it allows me to analyze art in a completely different way than what everyone is used to. We always visualize art and its meaning, but the use of color field lets people decide the meaning of the artwork. I believe this gives people a certain calm of the mind. Knowing the meaning behind a work will only change my view on it if it is said to actually have a meaning, which is rare in the color field movement.

  6. Keri Mallari says:

    Color Field is sort of sub group in Abstract Expressionism, in which artworks doesn’t necessarily need to have story, and the meaning varies upon the viewer; wherein paintings are literally just colors on top of colors on top of colors on a big color background. Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko are both key painters in this theme because they were sort of the founders of Color Field. Both Newman’s and Rothko’s paintings are made up of shapes of colors that expresses emotion. Newman uses zips to represent something different in something ordinary, while Rothko simply uses rectangles and relationships of the colors to express emotion. I actually like this work, knowing that not everyone would like it. First I’ve heard of this type of work, was when I overheard my previous classmates that it’s nonsense, rubbish, and that a second grader would be able to make the same type of artwork. Nonetheless, I like it because it can be anything you want, and even if it’s just colors, it’s beautiful. Knowing the background of this work actually made me like the movement more, because you start to see what these types of works further represent, you see how, why, when, where, and what; you begin to understand it further.

  7. Melissa Fellin says:

    Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko’s art illustrated the philosophy or color field because they illustrate abstract art and use solid color and different lines and shapes in their art. In all the pieces there was solid color, and either use of lines or shapes. Both works also don’t have a concrete story behind them. Their pieces are very abstract because they have this sort of spontaneous reaction like paint being thrown on the canvas and use simple geometric and linear forms. I really do like this work. I love how you can interpret the painting in any way you want. It is however frustrating because I automatically need to identify things in the painting that I can relate to anything. Like dark colors can be synonymous with a dark feeling. However, that doesn’t have to be the idea(s) the artist is trying to portray. Either way, I think it’s fun to interpret the art however you like and create possible things in your mind the artist is trying to relay. Knowing the background of the artist and philosophy kind of changed how I viewed the art. At first, I needed to identify things in the painting and relate them to a certain feeling, emotion, create a story, etc. Once I learned that the paintings had no real meaning I kind of stopped guessing what the artist was trying to display and started to think for myself how the paintings made me feel. It also changed how I viewed Newman s’ work because I automatically thought of dark, depressing images in each.

  8. The color field was introduced into the art movement by both Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, who made the technique possible with their use of zips. The color field technique was a 1950s form of abstract art that was meant to portray anything the viewer had in mind. With Rothko’s and Newman’s use of zips (lines over a background), the artists led the “revolution” of this form of abstract art by showing simplicity. Such simplicity is seen in Rothko’s “Red,” where a red box is shown, leaving the viewer to judge it and see whatever they wish to come out of it. The “Onement” painting of Newman also portrays how simplicity is sometimes the most thought-provoking. While the title can lead the viewer to automatically think loneliness, the painting itself is a line over a background.
    I agree with Cop Guy on this and say I honestly don’t care for it. It’s not the matter that I don’t care for it, but I’m more on the side that the artist is actually trying too hard to become an artist. The minimalism used in the painting can show either great, deep thought and meaning or it can show laziness and unfortunately, another copy among abstract paintings. In these cases, I am not a fan of considering a line art, but I am a fan of the process behind it- that people can get a better understanding of themselves depending of what they get out of the picture.
    I know that both artists did study philosophy and I also know that Rothko committed suicide, so it does help to better understand their paintings. Just how seeing dark, cold colors show depression and death, warm vibrant colors can show life and meaning. But I still stick to my opinion above, since any artists- not just abstract artists- can show emotion ranging from sadness to happiness, all by showing some more effort and planning.

  9. Paloma Díaz says:

    Barnett Newman was one of the major figures in abstract expressionism. For Rothko, color was “merely an instrument.” The use of a field of color induces an emotional reaction in the viewer. Newman and Rothko’s art clearly illustrates the philosophy of color field because there is no particular significance to the art. Personally this type of art isn’t my favorite because I can’t look at it and know exactly what it is. We, as humans, feel the need to automatically put a face on stuff so we can attempt to fully understand it. Knowing the background of the artist and the philosophy does change the way I view the art because it helps me understand what the artist is trying to portray through the art.

  10. Daniel Chauca says:

    1. Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism. they illustrate the philosophy of colorfield through their artwork by their use of colors and zips. They both made abstract paintings with no actual meaning. they used color in their paintings to express emotion and the use of zips divided and united the composition.
    2. I don’t actually like this kind of artwork because i like to know that there is a reason or meaning behind the art which abstract sometimes doesn’t have. it would take me a while to at least try to find a meaning. i like paintings that you can actually see an object or event happening in it.
    3. Knowing the background and philosophy of the artist does not change my view on the artwork because even with this knowledge there is still sometimes no relation. Knowing how they use the colors in their paintings could help to understand the painting but other than that i don’t think it would help. Many of these paintings are open to the person to find a meaning and may not even have a meaning.

  11. Maynard Santos says:

    The works of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko share common themes: expressive colors, abstract content, and argue-ably simple design. These aspects of their pieces express the philosophy of Color Field: expressing the artist’s emotion through abstract design & interesting colors, while keeping design simple and open to interpretation of the viewer.

    I don’t care much for this type of art. Regardless of the philosophy of Color Field and the background of the artists, I don’t care much for this type of art. The design of the pieces I have seen seem too simple & abstract for my taste; I can’t appreciate the art because I want something relatable/tangible (probably the wrong word) when I view a piece. Nature scenes, capturing a moment, everyday objects, a skyline, something along those aspects. Despite this view, I can still respect the talent of these artists in expressing themselves through their work, so while I may not appreciate their pieces, I can respect the effort put in.

  12. Joerenz Bolina says:

    Colorfield is a type of art that is very abstract. Instead of focusing on a specific image (it’s kind of hard to find an adjective to fit here. Like something visually perceivable, if that makes any sense), it uses colors in a variety of patterns to get the spectator to create the story behind the painting in their head. In other words, instead of giving us a single moment to focus on and find a specific meaning, we are forced to take the colors (whether it be in the forms of lines, dots, shapes, swirls, etc.) and interpret it in our own way based on the meaning of the colors. While there may be a specific message being sent out by the artist, it is more likely that we will get the interpretation based on what we invent in our heads than not. There are many ways togo when you are in controlof your imagination.
    Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman were key figures in the movement of colorfield abstract art.
    Rothko’s “orange and yellow” is literally just orange and yellow colors inside a orange-yellow frame. It looks like a sunset. Anyway, the painting gave off a warm, exciting feeling. It is considered colorfield because there isn’t an actual, single, specific image to be seen. It is just colors in box shapes. So based on what we feel and invent, this picture can go a variety of ways. Some say it is a beer, and others say its a pill. I imagine warm, exciting feels due to the nature of yellow and orange- they are warm colors. It follows colorfield ways, so it is colorfield, like the rest of Rothko’s art.
    Newman’s “adam” is basically three red lines on a maroon background, all of different thicknesses. How creative… Anyway, unlike the other painting, the artist had specific intentions here. It is another warm feeleing painting, and you can imagine blood just looking at it. Newman’s story was that the three lines are a resemblance of god and man being a single beam of light, as one. Adam comes from adamah, which means earth in hebrew and seems like the background color. In hebrew also, adom means red and dam means blood, which is exactly what the lines look like and the feeling they give off. The maroonish brown and the red symbolizes man’s connection to earth. I thought the blood, red, warmthing at first, and had a feeling it might go religious or something, and when keri said it was called adam, the meaning became obvious. Even though this has a meaning, we could pull this a variety of directions, like saying each line is the love and passion we feel in our lives, or the blood pumping out of anger. This is colorfield because the colors become the message holders of the painting, and through red, we find out the religious connection and newman’s intentions. It follows the ways of other colorfields, like those of rothko’s. This is like many of newman’s other paintings.
    I personally find these fascinating; albeit, not creative, but fascinating. A 3 year old could do squiggly lines, call it colorfield, and have it hung in a prestigious multi millionaire museums. Like cop- i mean mr mccourt said, this is not traditional art, and it seems stupid people get millions for making simple things like this; however, art is still art. I like it because it allows me to interpret art as i want. Sometimes, i dislke having to interpret it exactly like the artist. Its more fun to make up your own way and dream on with your imgination. Does a train on tracks neccesarily have to be about war or the gold rush or trans continental railway? I see hogwarts, and the polar express, and thomas the engine, and the little train that could. Theres no limit to what you can dream up, and that ability and oppurtunity given by colorfield to be extremely creative, expressive, and interpretive is awesome.
    Knowing background on something makes it easier to understand. Same goes for colorfield. The more you know, the easier it becomes to interpret it the way the artist wants, although it forces you to narrow down the way you imagine it a little. It doesn’t really change my view because even though i know more about it and found the true meaning, i still see it the way i saw it. Colorfield allowed me to create my own story. Finding background just gives me their story. Mine still sticks with me. Its like how everyone has their own opinions: everyone also has their own interpretation, and that’s usually the statement they stick with. So yeah, background doesn’t change my view of the works i picked, or colorfield in general.

    And that’s my two cents on keri’s colorful presentation.

  13. Angelica Carlson says:

    Barnett Newman’s Untitiled work is great example of color field. Its a giant rectangle split into two thinner ones. The left side, a faded grey, and the right side, a heavy black. This image doesn’t really share any specific meaning but instead it is what you see, feel, and make out of it.
    Mark Rothko’s No. 20 also emphasizes color field. To me, it looks like an original reddish background with brown rectangles drawn on top. In my opinion, this represent layering, and pushing things down. But like I previously mentioned, there is no definitive meaning. It up to you!
    I highly enjoyed color field, because it really allowed me to expand my mind, and truly look into the feeling and see how I was reflected in it. Knowing the background of the artist does not really change my opinion on the works. It gives a better understanding on the work, but its still up to me to interpret it through my eyes.

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