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Barbara Novak, b.1928

Red, Yellow and Blue2004

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.

MediumWatercolour on paper
Dimensions Unframed, 49.7 x 45.6 cm
Framed, 70.5 x 63.5 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Donation, Novak/O'Doherty Collection, 2015
Item NumberIMMA.3932
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Barbara Novak, Red, Yellow and Blue, 2004, Watercolour on paper, Unframed, 49.7 x 45.6 cm|Framed, 70.5 x 63.5 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Donation, Novak/O'Doherty Collection, 2015

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist

Barbara Novak b.1928

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.

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Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.