In 1961, during the latter part of his career, Newman turned to printmaking at the suggestion of a friend. The artist took quickly to the medium of lithography and produced three lithographs that year, the present lot an example of the first. The artist's experimentation with the possibilities of this new medium is apparent in the present example --the untouched expanse of opaque black ink at center, the scumbling at left, the scraping at right, and the hand drawn white line down the right edge of the central black field. In exploring the possibilities of the lithographic stone and crayon, the artist was also investigating the opposition of the opaque and transparent.
Later, in the introduction to his seminal 18 Cantos, Newman would articulate his thoughts on the medium, its possibilities and challenges: "To me that is what lithography is. It is an instrument. It is not a "medium"; it is not a poor man's substitute for painting or for drawing. Nor do I consider it to be a kind of translation of something from one medium into another. For me, it is an instrument that one plays. It is like a piano or an orchestra, and as with an instrument, it interprets. And as in all the intrepretive arts, so in lithography, creation is joined with the "playing"; in this case not of bow and string, but of stone and press. The definition of a lithograph is that it is writing on stone. But unlike Gertrude Stein's rose, the stone is not a stone. The stone is a piece of paper."