Voice of Fire, 1967
acrylic on canvas
543.6 x 243.8 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30502)
© Estate of Barnett Newman / ARS (New York) / SODRAC (Montréal)
Voice of Fire was commissioned for the U.S. Pavilion at the Montreal International and Universal Exhibition, better known as Expo '67. The canvas appeared, with other works by leading American contemporary artists, in the massive geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. Newman, by that time a distinguished veteran of the New York School, celebrated for his bold, elemental paintings, conceived of a design that would stand out in the vast, sunlit and crowded space under the dome. Limiting his colours to red and blue, he created this powerful vertical canvas to be suspended from the dome's ceiling. While it appears simple in form, Voice of Fire conveys a range of meanings. Newman intended the work to be studied from a short distance; its enormous scale transforms the space and tests our sensory experience.