Barnett Newman, Vir Heroicus Sublimis, 1950-1. Oil on canvas. Abstract Expressionism.
In order for the painting to have its full affect, the viewer must stand directly between the lines; close enough that you can’t see past the painting beyond your peripheral vision. The purpose is to create a sublime void-like experience by enveloping the viewer’s sight in the painting. When there’s really nothing the eye can see, you become a part of the painting itself. Impressively, this monumental work shows no visible evidence of the artist’s hand which avoids bringing to mind human intervention, achieving a truly sublime experience.
On Vir Heroicus Sublimis (taken from the Museum of Modern Art):
When the painting was first exhibited, in 1951 at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, Newman tacked to the wall a notice that read, “There is a tendency to look at large pictures from a distance. The large pictures in this exhibition are intended to be seen from a short distance.” Newman believed deeply in the spiritual potential of abstract art. The Latin title of this painting means “Man, heroic and sublime.”
Currently located in the Museum of Modern Art (New York City).