During our wonderful tour of the Safeway Studio building of the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Christine Olejniczak, Program and Outreach Coordinator, showed us a number of items bequeathed by Barnett Newman to Donald Judd. In addition to painter’s scaffoldings and a lovely antique Philco radio was an artist’s palette complete with various pigments that belonged to Newman at his death. While one would expect a palette full of reds and whites, the pigments on Newman’s palette were predominantly greens.
As Christine was visiting Houston two weeks after our Chapter’s visit to Marfa, I invited her to look at the unfinished Newman paintings here at the Menil Collection and introduced her to Brad Epley, our Chief Conservator who is very experienced treating Newman works (including a seven year long project restoring Be I, now on display in the 20th Century gallery at the Menil). So, on Monday, November 19th, Christine, her husband Ray, Brad and I met in our Barnett Newman gallery and our treasure rooms upstairs and looked at our Newman paintings. Not surprisingly, the greens only appeared on some early work. But all of us were intrigued and we all want to learn more about this palette.
So we can add Newman’s palette at the Judd Foundation to the file of Marfa mysteries along with the Marfa Lights. I will keep the Chapter informed about any further facts that come to light as Christine, Brad and others continue to pursue this.
Submitted by Eric M.Wolf