Barbara Novak has painted flowers since childhood, long before her immersion in art history. She took watercolour classes at Parsons School of Design, the Art Students League, New York and the Brooklyn Museum. According to Novak:
‘Nature and art…have different requirements, which war within the picture. The flowers press for an exact delineation…The paintings have their own needs. How do the flowers dispose themselves on the two-dimensional surface? What are the interrelations on that surface plane? What rhythms are set up between the flowers and their winding stems on the white surface of the paper that stands for light and space at the same time? How are the colours orchestrated between the flowers, or even within a single flower, with its range of tones and hues? Sometimes I find the flowers themselves so insistent that I have to pull back and think of the needs of the picture. At other times, when I am more compelled to let the paint take control, I end up with something more abstract in feeling’.*
*Barbara Novak, in Brian O’Doherty, ‘Barbara Novak: Tasting of Flora and the Country Green’, in Artists and Writers and Husbands and Wives (Eaton Fine Art: New York, 2002), pp 8-20.
|Watercolour on paper
Unframed, 49.7 x 45.6 cm
Framed, 70.5 x 63.5 cm
|IMMA Collection: Donation, Novak/O'Doherty Collection, 2015
|For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
American art historian Barbara Novak attended Barnard College and Harvard. Novak’s ground-breaking ‘American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism and the American Experience’, was published in 1969 and followed by ‘Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting 1825-1875’ in 1980. She served on the boards of the American Art Journal, the National Academy of Design and the New York Historical Society. Novak is also an accomplished watercolour painter.View Artist