Miskatonic University Press

Barnett Newman's Library

art libraries

This is a beautiful book: Barnett Newman: A Catalogue Raisonné, by Richard Shiff, Carol C. Mancusi-Ungaro and Heidi Colsman-Freyberger, published in 2004 by Yale University Press. (Wikipedia defines a catalogue raisonné to be “a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known artworks by an artist either in a particular medium or all media.” That’s what this book is: it’s a big, heavy, gorgeous edition listing everything Newman ever painted or drew (that he didn’t destroy), with colour photos and all sorts of details about everything.)

Onement I, courtesy Wikipedia
Onement I, courtesy Wikipedia

Barnett Newman is one of my favourite artists, and recently I’ve been enjoying reading about him for Listening to Art: the next three issues are all Newman paintings.

I was very happy to find that the catalogue raisonné includes a listing of books in Newman’s library—and then I was even happier when I discovered that a more accurate list is available on the Barnett Newman Foundation’s web site: The Artist’s Library.

These are the categories they’ve used to organize the books and other items:

  • Art and Architecture
  • Automobiles and Automobile Repair
  • Banking and Finance
  • Biography and Autobiography
  • Biology and the Natural Sciences
  • Birds (Ornithology)
  • Botany
  • Catalogues and Advertisements
  • Drama
  • Ethnology, Anthropology, Archeology and Sociology
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Horse Racing and Betting
  • How-To
  • Language
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Media and Technology
  • Miscellaneous
  • New York
  • Periodicals
  • Philosophy
  • Photography
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Poets, Poetry, and Verse
  • Politics
  • Programs and Menus
  • Psychology
  • Religion and the Religious Life
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Travel and Tourism

These are not standard subject headings any library would use, but they suit Barnett Newman very well (among other things, he spent a few years trying to make a living at the track), and that’s the most important thing. A catalogue should help you understand the library’s creator.

See also: