Barnett Newman was born on January 29, 1905 in New York. From 1919 to 1923 Newman attended De Witt Clinton High School in Manhattan. During his senior year, Newman attended drawing classes six days a week with Duncan Smith at the Art Students League. While at the Art Students League, Newman met fellow artist Adolph Gottlieb. Gottlieb would later introduce Newman to artists Milton Avery and Marcus Rothkowitz (later Mark Rothko).
In 1943, Newman met Betty Parsons, who ran a small gallery and gave him his first solo show on January 23, 1950. The show received primarily negative critical attention. In 1951 with the help of friends Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, and Tony Smith, Newman installed his second exhibit at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Once again, critics condemned the exhibition. In the months to follow, Newman removed his work from Betty Parsons and withdrew from all gallery activities.
Newman's mature style is characterized by the zip, a thin, vertical line that zips through large areas of color. Despite changes in his color palette, zips remained a fundamental aspect of Newman's work, simultaneously creating spatial divides and uniting the canvas. Despite the Abstract Expressionist tradition of leaving works untitled, Newman often titled his works.
Throughout the late 1950's and 1960's, Newman gained recognition as an artist; and has since been included in numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, including; The New American Painting, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Barnett Newman and Willem de Kooning, Allan Stone Gallery, New York; Barnett Newman, The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachtani, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; New York; Barnett Newman: January 29, 1905 – July 4, 1970, Pasadena Art Museum, California, and Barnett Newman, Tate Modern, London. In 1970, Newman received the Brandeis University Creative Arts Medal.
Barnett Newman died July 4, 1970 of a heart attack at the age of sixty-five.