Early Italian Room: Sampler (Original Man), 2001

Sampler (Original Man), which quotes Barnett Newman’s attempt to read art-making back into the most distant possible past, hangs in the Early Italian Room next to Francesco Pesellino’s moral allegory The Triumph of Fame, Time, and Eternity. I installed the embroidery beneath Piero della Francesca’s incredibly modern fresco showing the classical hero Hercules—whose club seems to point out the similarities between Newman’s tripartite construction of earthy tones, punctuated by bright red bands, and the color and composition of Piero’s fifteenth-century masterpiece. The almost life-sized fresco is thought to have been accompanied by the artist’s self-portrait.

Photograph by Yoav Horesh