Personal Margins

Barnett Newman, 18 Cantos, 1963-1964, a lithograph portfolio of 18 pages and one cover page

Barnett Newman, 18 Cantos, 1963-1964, a lithograph portfolio of 18 pages and one cover page

I should say that it was the margins made in printing a lithographic stone that magnetized the challenge for me from the very beginning. No matter what one does, no matter how completely one works the stone (and I have always worked the stone, as soon as it is printed) makes an imprint that is surrounded by inevitable white margins. I would create a totality only to find it change after it was printed-into another totality…There is always the intrusion of the paper frame. To crop the extruding paper or to cover it with a mat or to eliminate all of the margins by “bleeding” is an evasion of this fact. It is like cropping to make a painting. It is success by mutilation…The struggle to overcome this intrusion-to give the imprint its necessary scale so that it could have its fullest expression, so that it would not be crushed by the paper margin and still have a margin- that was the challenge for me. That is why each canto has its own personal margins…These eighteen cantos are then single, individual expressions, each with its unique difference.

-Barnett Newman, “Preface to 18 Cantos,” 1964

Canto XIV 1963-4 by Barnett Newman 1905-1970

Canto XIV 1963-4 by Barnett Newman 1905-1970



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