Listening to Art

04.11: Barnett Newman, Voice of Fire

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Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume four, number eleven: Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

In 2001 New York Review Books published a new English version of Le Chef-d’Œuvre Inconnu by Honoré de Balzac, titled The Unknown Masterpiece and translated by Richard Howard. It has an introduction by art critic Arthur Danto. Danto begins with a quote from Barnett Newman (p. vii):

I think a man spends his whole lifetime painting one picture or working on one piece of sculpture. The question of stopping is really a decision of moral considerations. To what extent are you intoxicated by the actual act, so that you are beguiled by it? To what extent are you charmed by its inner life? And to what extent do you then really approach the intention or desire that is really outside it? The decision is always made when the piece has something in it that you wanted.

This is a painting, acrylic on canvas, 243.8 cm wide by 543.6 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman, recorded at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, on 16 March 2019.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

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All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Danto, Arthur C. Introduction to The Unknown Masterpiece, by Honoré de Balzac, vii–xxvii. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: New York Review Books, 2001.

National Gallery of Canada. “Voice of Fire.” National Gallery of Canada.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Barnett Newman,”

⸻, s.v. “Voice of Fire,”