His paintings developed, remarkably, in harmony and juxtaposition with one another
A self-taught artist, Roy Newell (1914-2006) created an oeuvre of less than a hundred small, vividly-colored geometric abstractions, which he painted carefully and deliberately over the course of decades. In a practice reminiscent of Albert Pinkham Ryder, Newell often re-worked his jewel-like compositions, building up a layered and textured surface. A founding member of the 8th Street Artists Club and a colleague of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline, he began his career as part of the Abstract Expressionist circle. As his contemporaries began working bigger and more gesturally, Newell dramatically changed his approach, concentrating instead on tiny hard-edged abstractions with vibrant color relationships that evoke the influence of Kazimir Malevich, Paul Cézanne, and Hans Hofmann. Throughout his career Newell exhibited infrequently. His paintings developed, remarkably, in harmony and juxtaposition with one another, as components of a salon-style installation in his apartment. Newell was honored with the retrospective Color and Time: Paintings by Roy Newell 1956-2000 at the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in 2014.
“Each [painting] has its own physical density; all are clamped into place by the concentrated buildup of paint, laid on in small, jabbing brushstrokes. The tension is amazing.” – Roberta Smith, The New York Times, February 11, 2010
“He is at his best in the smallest pictures, where he tends to employ the fewest colors and where colors themselves placed in close-valued juxtapositions.” – Hilton Kramer, The New York Times, May 26, 1973
“Surfaces are built up in countless layers, creating areas of near-sculptural planar relief. Textural effects vary within a single piece from cakey and densely feathered to oil-rich and loosely brushed. Mr. Newell's palette is bright but complicated and holds some audacious surprises …” – Holland Cotter, The New York Times, May 29, 1998