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is a publication of KRESA’s Education for the Arts, Aesthetic Education Program

Windows on the Work Committee Editor: Research: Contributors:


Nick Mahmat Nick Mahmat Mary Whalen Maryjo Lemanski Angie Melvin Honore Lee Hilary Anthony Kathryn Bishop Lynn Amari Leslie Boughton Megan Buchanan Schopf Michele VanderBeek Nancy Gagliano Nancy Husk Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Nick Mahmat

Education for the Arts Director: Director’s Secretary: Coordinator: Aesthetic Education Program Coordinator: Program Coordinator: Website:

Jeffrey Harkins Kris DeRyder Debra Strickland Nick Mahmat Val Miller

Comments or questions about this publication may be directed to Nick Mahmat, Aesthetic Education Program Coordinator at 488-6267 or



Purpose The purpose of the Window on the Work is to provide educators and teaching artists with contextual information pertaining to the focus works presented by Education for the Arts Aesthetic Education Program. This information can fuel the educational process between educators and teaching artists in developing the lesson plans and can offer additional pathways (windows) into the repertory and possible connections to existing school curriculum. There are several ways that the information may be shared. For instance:  Each educator reads a section and reports back to the school team in the planning process  Questions are brainstormed and then researched by the educators  Additional resources are identified for further investigation

In the planning process, use the Window on the Work:      

To brainstorm themes for study development As a reference tool as questions and interests develop in the planning session To elaborate and expand the instructional focus that has developed out of the planning process To learn more about the work of art To consider possible responses to the question pages as the Window is read To discover connections to other work by the same artists and to other works in the same genre

During the unit of study, use the Window on the Work:   

To expand on a lesson idea As a reference to respond to students’ questions To keep the discussion about the work alive in the classroom To discover additional connections

After the unit of study, use the Window on the Work:    

To continue discussion about the work To compare to other works of art the class may study in the future To expand curriculum study in the classroom on a particular culture, period in history, etc. As a jumping-off point to make connections with other classroom activities, personal connections, and courses of study

The Work

The Work

Movement and Shadow: Prints and Drawings by Kirk Newman is a traveling exhibition of six works from the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Mr. Newman’s private collection. This exhibit will tour to schools where it will reside for a two-week duration. Prior to planning, spend time engaging with the work of art.    

What do you notice? What stands out to you about the work? What do you notice about the choices the artists are making? How would you describe the work of art you are viewing?

Clockwise from upper left: The Only Style He Knows Pencil & Prismacolor Float Hand colored lithograph The Dancing King Pencil and crayon Untitled Pencil

Krail hand colored lithograph

Figure Study pencil

The Artist

The Artist Who is the artist? What do we know of Kirk Newman’s background and training? What inspires Kirk Newman’s work?

What more can we learn about the work from the artist?

Kirk Newman in his studio showing some of his 2-D prints. Some of his smaller table-top bronze sculptures can be seen as well

Kirk Newman Kirk Newman was born in Dallas, Texas in 1926 and began his artistic career experimenting with abstract sculpture and painting in the exciting post-World War II era. What increasingly intrigued him, however, was the human figure and how it could speak to the complexities of the modern world. Newman began his exploration of the figure by creating small sculptures of anonymous businessmen. While their suits identified them as figures of power and authority, their crouching, falling, and grasping postures revealed vulnerability. Cast in bronze, the figures took on an unexpected timelessness.

As Newman's focus shifted toward the whimsical and satirical, the figures suggested the inflated egos and social pretensions of their subjects. By the 1980s the businessmen, now distorted, flattened and shadow-like, conveyed the fast pace of contemporary life. While widely recognized as a sculptor, Newman was also a dedicated educator. He came to Kalamazoo in 1949 as part of the University of Michigan's extension program. Newman believed community art programs could be as stimulating and rewarding as those offered at the college level. He recruited a dedicated group of teachers to help develop the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts art school. When he left as Director of Education in 1978, the school that now bears his name had received national recognition. It continues to be an enduring presence in the cultural life of Kalamazoo.

A Legacy: The Kirk Newman Art School at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Did You Know? The Kirk Newman Art School is a community-based, non-degree art school offering:       

300+ classes for over 3,000 students each year. Classes for ages 4-years through adults. 12-week fall and winter terms with weekly classes. Shorter courses in specialized subjects each term. 6-week spring term and 8-week summer term. Children's and Teen Art Camps with a special theme each week. Scholarships for adults, teens and children.

A Body of Work In addition to the 2-dimensional works displayed in Movement in Shadow, Kirk Newman is a well known and accomplished sculptor. Below are samples of some of his 3-dimensional work. What commonalities exist between his 2-D and 3-D work? How does seeing his 3-D work further inform our understanding of his 2-D work and his voice as an artist? When Mercy and Justice Prevail Children May Play Safely

Works Above: Three of Kirk’s Bronze Shadow Pieces Bottom right: Preliminary Sketch of a Shadow Piece

The Craft

The Craft

What is known of the mediums of the works included in Movement and Shadow: Prints and Drawings by Kirk Newman? What inspires Kirk’s work and drives some of his choices in the creation of a piece? What themes have immerged in Kirk’s work as his imagery has developed over time? What are possible meanings behind these themes?

Mediums in Movement and Shadow Printmaking

is the process of making artworks by transferring an image onto a surface. Printmaking typically refers to the process of creating original fine art, rather than a reproduction or copy of a painting or other work. A printmaking process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece, except in the case of monotyping. Each piece produced, however, is not a copy but considered an original work as it is not a reproduction of another work of art. There are several methods of printmaking and each presents its own distinct set of characteristics in the final piece. Prints are created from a single original surface, known technically as a matrix. Common types of matrices include: plates of metal, usually copper or zinc for engraving or etching; stone, used for lithography; blocks of wood for woodcuts, linoleum for linocuts and fabric plates for screen-printing.

Lithographaphy As opposed to intaglio and relief processes in which the design is cut into the printing block, lithography is printed using a flat print surface and is based on the chemical repellence of oil and water. Designs are drawn or painted with greasy ink or crayons on specially prepared limestone. The stone is moistened with water, which the stone accepts in areas not covered by the crayon. An oily ink, applied with a roller, adheres only to the drawing and is repelled by the wet parts of the stone. The print is then made by pressing paper against the inked drawing.


Drawing is a visual art that makes use of any number of drawing instruments to mark a two-dimensional medium. Common instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoals, chalk, pastels, markers, stylus, or various metals like silverpoint. A small amount of material is released onto the two dimensional medium which leaves a visible mark. The most common support for drawing is paper, although other materials such as cardboard, plastic, leather, canvas and board, may be used.

Kirk Newman and the


It was forty-seven years ago when Kirk Newman first found himself drawn to the subject for which he is now famously known. The subject was the businessman and Newman sensed it held possibilities for expressing something essential about our time. This was an odd point of view to take in 1963, a time when figurative art was seen as hopelessly cliché and irrelevant. The art world’s interest was turning away from realism and the figure, looking instead to abstract expressionism and the avant-garde. Newman’s choice of such a subject could have been seen as a step backwards. His choice to then cast this subject in bronze, a very traditional medium of sculpture and statuary, gave further potential for his work to be dismissed as the antithesis of modern. Yet in the decades that followed, Newman found in the figure the means of expressing not only contemporary experience, but also the enigmatic nature of the human animal itself. His body of work is vast and showcases multiple mediums, styles, and themes. His figures, whether sculpted, drawn, or in print form have become known and praised for their ability to reflect humanity as a whole in these fast times we now live.

Newman’s use of businessmen as symbols of perpetual motion developed out of his own experiences in the business world working for a lighter company in the late 1970s. His brief time there was enough for him to learn that industry was not what he wanted to do for a living. These experiences and interactions with the heads of companies and business executives, however, provided him fodder for future artistic projects.

"The C.E.O. is a person who cannot show a lot of emotion but gets news that can be good or terrible. He can't jump up and down. But his nerve endings go all over. He's affected totally. That's the thing I want to express in an image." -Kirk Newman

Common Themes As Kirk’s imagery developed, several themes emerged in his portrayal of the businessman. Evidence of these themes can be seen in the exhibition Movement and Shadow: Prints and Drawings by Kirk Newman.

Space and Form: Kirk is intrigued by the relationship of space with form. How are the

subjects arranged in the space? This theme is explored commonly between figure and object. As example, his work presents multiple unique arrangements of businessmen and briefcases. You are just as likely to see a figure confidently carrying a briefcase as you are seated on, suspended from, being drug by, or crouching defensively behind one. Board tables, office chairs, purses, even a hot pepper all appear in his work aiding in story and metaphor. His positioning of figure and object invites questions, new meanings, and analogies as we analyze the relationship of the two.

Shadow: As Kirk’s work evolves over time we see his figures reduced more and more to animated shadows, acting as mysterious, contemporary pictographs. The figure is shown as a flat mass of distorted human form. Carefully arranged holes penetrate this shadowy mass, causing the viewer to question the solidity of the figure. Kirk felt that these shadow figures defined the human condition of our time. The shadow has become more real than the body.

“A shadow can stretch in different directions - similar to how we are stretched so thin today in our busy lives.” -Kirk Newman

What associations do we have with a shadow? What connections can we make between these associations and the human experience?

Movement: Interested in physics and the idea of matter as particles in motion Kirk looked for ways that the physicality of his work could evoke energy and flux. In his Office Series lithographs, he intensified the agitated feeling of his businessmen through a series of dots and dashes. Features of the face, particularly the eyes, began to multiply, suggesting a constant shifting caused by apprehension or confusion.

An enlarged view of the facial features from an Office Series lithograph

Kirk’s interest in anthropology and the evolution of man causes

a continued exploration of movement. Man’s ability to walk upright fundamentally changed human beings from their evolutionary prototypes. Kirk created repeated images that considered the implication of that first step - that first movement into the world. Kirk plays with ideas of weight, inertia, and balance of the figure in motion. He manipulates the body to emphasize and exaggerate the action through his distortion and stretching of limbs. The legs begin to dominate the figures while the bodies become thin and take on the forms of cast shadows. Commenting on the speed of contemporary life, Kirk’s figures eventually took the form of runners obsessed with getting ahead, catching up or running late. In his final stage of movement, the figures leap. It is a dramatic gesture where figures embrace the unknown. Fueled by fear, desperation, or desire these figures appear to hurl themselves into space.

"Speed is such a huge part of the environment we live in. But the greater reality is the speed of change. The figures I make are reflecting that." -Kirk Newman

The Origins

The Origins What has been the role of the figure throughout the history of American art? How has the figure and the way it has been portrayed by artists evolved over the course of time? What background terminology or artistic concepts are related to the work of Kirk Newman? How have the art movements of Kirk’s time informed his work?

The Figure: A Look at its History in American Art An essay from the National Gallery of Art Teaching Resource Thomas Sully's portrait of Eliza Ridgely

The human figure constitutes the fundamental element not only of portraiture, but also of historical, religious, mythological, and genre imagery.

Gilbert Stuart’s Painting of George Washington

Early American artists struggled to master the figure, as is evident from the naive likenesses of early settlers painted by self-taught artists. By the late eighteenth century, however, artists such as Gilbert Stuart and Charles Willson Peale portrayed their aristocratic colonial contemporaries with great realism and refinement, in part derived from European precedents.

Figure painting can register a likeness, but it can also serve as a vehicle for conveying narrative and expressing emotion. During the late eighteenth century, dramatic action scenes with multiple figures became increasingly popular. Creation of these large canvases, such as John Singleton Copley's Red Cross Knight, involved weaving figures into complex compositions. The artist used his children as models for the knight and the allegorical figures of Faith and Hope in this scene from Edmund Spenser's epic poem, Faerie Queene. Genre scenes displayed a

John Singleton Copley's Red Cross Knight

comparable diversity of figure types and actions, although without the grand settings and heroic touch often present in literary subjects. Instead, depictions of episodes from everyday life often contained a hint of sentimentality. In early nineteenthcentury portraiture, especially of women, the figure becomes elongated and idealized to conform to the prevailing standards of elegance and beauty. In Thomas Sully's portrait of Eliza Ridgely, the artist dramatically lengthened her legs to almost impossible proportions. The work becomes an allegory of feminine refinement instead of a realistic rendering of the subject. In this way, artists enjoyed a degree of poetic license, as allegorical figures could represent conceptual ideas rather than actual individuals. In contrast, painters such as George Catlin fulfilled a documentary function. His images of American Indians were intended to record physical appearance, dress, and customs. Winslow Homer approached the figure with a similar reportorial attitude as a Civil War correspondent, and later transformed his illustrative realism in works that illuminated relationships between man and nature. Another realist, Thomas Eakins, was an expert in anatomy who emphasized study from the nude figure even though Victorian America frowned upon it. Eakins became adept in portraying figures engaged in vigorous athletic activity as well as in moments of introspection. With impressionism and symbolism, the figure became less a representational vehicle and more an aesthetic device by which artists demonstrated the virtuosity of their paint handling and evoked mood. In his portraits, Frank Weston Benson's loose

brushwork captures both the figure of his model and the light and warmth of the summer day. Similarly, early modern artists transfigured the human body in various experiments with form and style. Art deco artists stretched the figure into lithe and graceful poses. Lyonel Feininger conceived the figure as an assembly of geometric forms moving through space. Still, a current of realist figuration survived. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the Ashcan school retained the loose brushwork of impressionism but rejected the comfortable themes of bourgeois leisure. Instead, these artists favored urban subjects, commenting on the social ills endured by the disenfranchised.

Regionalists such as Thomas Hart Benton celebrated American types, sometimes with an exuberance that verged on caricature. After World War II, the abstract expressionist movement dominated the art world. This Lyonel Feininger, Jesuits III, 1915 highly gestural, nonrepresentational style rarely contained explicit figures, other than in the work of Willem de Kooning. However, in the 1960s pop artists returned to the figure wholeheartedly with images derived from popular culture and sculptural tableaux. In recent years the figure has again taken on a range of politically charged meanings and is frequently associated with issues of gender and identity.

Frank Weston Benson’s Sunlight

Woman III, William DeKooning

Related Terminology Abstraction & Abstract Art At its purest, abstraction uses shapes, colors and lines as elements in and for themselves. Abstraction can also be conceptual, such as when a sentence or subject matter is cut up so as to make its meaning nonsensical or unreal. A characteristic trait of 20th century and Modern Art, many artists working today combine representational and abstract elements while others make works without recognizable people, places, or things.

Abstract Expressionism

An American post-World War II art movement originating in New York in the 1940s that combined abstract forms with spontaneity of artistic expression.

Casting A sculptural process, done by pouring a liquid material into a mold and allowing it to cool or harden. Casting is used to make a replica of an object or to make groups of identical objects. Many mass-produced commercial objects, such as toys and dinnerware, are casts.



An historical period and attitude from the early to mid-20th century, characterized by experimentation, abstraction, a desire to provoke, and a belief in progress. Modern artists strove to go beyond that which had come before. Works of modern art may be visually different and yet share the same commitment to questioning artistic conventions. Modern Art is oriented towards developing new visual languages (rather than preserving and continuing those of the past) and takes the form of a series of periods, schools, and styles.


Either actual, or the suggestion of motion within a work of art. A work of art that has actual motion is commonly referred to as kinetic art while works that do not move but imply or give the illusion of movement, such as the work of Kirk Newman, are commonly referred to have implied movement.


The realistic and natural representation of people, places, and/or things in a work of art; the opposite of idealization.


The act of doing or representing in an excessive manner; a representation of things beyond the bounds of natural life, truth, or reason.

Works of art that depict recognizable people, places or things—often figures, landscapes, and still lifes.


The comparative size of a thing in relation to another like thing or its ‘normal’ or ‘expected size.’ Scale can refer to an entire work of art or to elements within it.

The shape and structure of a work of art, formal elements include color, shape, pattern, and duration. Many artists strive for a relationship between form and content, so that the way something is made fits with what the artist intends the work to be about or how it will be seen.


A description of figural movement; the embodiment of the essence of a figure.

Identity How one views oneself, how others perceive you, and how a society as a whole defines groups of people. Important to one's identity are ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and class, as well as education, childhood, and life experience. For many, being an artist is not just an occupation but also an ethical responsibility. Much art today deals with what it means to be an artist in today's rapidly changing world.


A relationship between disparate visual or verbal sources where one kind of object, idea, or image is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. Artists use metaphor to bridge differences between seemingly dissimilar images and ideas.



An outline drawing of a shape. Originally a silhouette presented a profile portrait filled in with a solid color.

Stylized Used to describe works of art which conform to imagined or invented visual rules. Work that is stylized tends to be less spontaneous or visually responsive to changes in subject matter.


The practice of representing things by an image, sign, symbol, convention, or association.

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Kalamazoo RESA, Education for the Arts | 2010/2011 | Movement and Shadow

Wndow on the Work: Movement and Shadow the Prints and Drawings of Kirk Newman  
Wndow on the Work: Movement and Shadow the Prints and Drawings of Kirk Newman  

WOW for art reach exhibition