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#1
Old 05-15-2013, 02:28 AM
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Somebody explain the artistic merit of this painting to me please

This painting(nytimes link) sold for 44 million dollars. It consists of two blue rectangles, with one narrow white rectangle in the middle. WTF?
#2
Old 05-15-2013, 03:02 AM
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Are you upset at the monetary value attached to this artwork, or do you just not like it as a painting?

If it's the price tag that's bothering you, remember that the art market isn't determined by questions of intrinsic value. No piece of painted canvas or hunk of marble is technically "worth" millions of dollars as a material object. It's worth whatever people are willing to pay for it.

If you actually want to learn something about the painting in your link, and understand more about why some people are in fact willing to pay millions of dollars for an abstract expressionist/minimalist type of painting, you might read up on Barnett Newman here, for instance.

If you just don't like the painting and wouldn't pay $44 million for it even if you had the odd $44 million to spare, that's okay. There isn't some magic absolute standard of "artistic merit" by which everybody is expected to agree on the worth of paintings.
#3
Old 05-15-2013, 03:16 AM
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It's not possible to explain artistic merit. You either like it or you don't.

ETA: If enough rich people like something, then its financial value can rise to objectively ludicrous levels.

Last edited by Shakester; 05-15-2013 at 03:17 AM.
#4
Old 05-15-2013, 03:31 AM
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But can anyone explain why somebody would look at that painting and feel that it has any significant artistic merit?
#5
Old 05-15-2013, 03:36 AM
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You need to be in the room with it. Not look at a photo of it. But be in the room with it.

I've looked at similar works at MoMA. (in NYC) I should say "experienced" similar works because it is an experience viewing them.




You also have to consider it's place in the history of art.

Last edited by Zebra; 05-15-2013 at 03:37 AM.
#6
Old 05-15-2013, 03:51 AM
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I read the OP and guessed Rothko, but then I moused over the link . . .

NEWMAN!



Just realizing now looking at their Wiki pages that their lifespans ran almost perfectly congruent. Rothko was born just a year and a half before Newman (NEWMAN!) and they died the same year- Rothko in February and Newman in July.

The above bit of trivia, I'm sure, helps no one with anything. Just thought it was neat.
#7
Old 05-15-2013, 04:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Are you upset at the monetary value attached to this artwork, or do you just not like it as a painting?
<snip>
I'm not upset at anything. Flabbergasted is the strongest word I would use, and even then probably not. And it would be nice if you would tell me why you thought the painting had artistic merit, instead of linking me to an article about the painter.

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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
But can anyone explain why somebody would look at that painting and feel that it has any significant artistic merit?
Exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebra View Post
You need to be in the room with it. Not look at a photo of it. But be in the room with it.

I've looked at similar works at MoMA. (in NYC) I should say "experienced" similar works because it is an experience viewing them.




You also have to consider it's place in the history of art.
I've been in rooms with blue walls. If that wall was in a museum, and framed with a white stripe down the middle, the 'being in a museum' bit may add some sense of special-ness, granted. As for its "place in the history of art", a painting ought to give some sense of talent outside of just context.
#8
Old 05-15-2013, 04:10 AM
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If you don't get it, I can't explain it to you.



Actually, I can't explain it to you under any circumstances, because I don't get it, either.
#9
Old 05-15-2013, 04:58 AM
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Are we sure that it's not a painting by Rabo Karabekian?
#10
Old 05-15-2013, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bldysabba View Post
And it would be nice if you would tell me why you thought the painting had artistic merit, instead of linking me to an article about the painter.
Your dismissive "WTF?" OP clearly communicates that you don't want someone to explain the artistic merit of the work. "Someone explain the artistic merit of this painting to me" punctutated by "WTF?" is simple rhetoric for "I have decided this work has no artistic merit."

You then follow up with more dismissiveness.
Quote:
I've been in rooms with blue walls. If that wall was in a museum, and framed with a white stripe down the middle, the 'being in a museum' bit may add some sense of special-ness, granted.
Cafe Society is a perfectly appropriate forum to address a multimillion dollar price tag on a work of art as being teh st00pid, but if you're not really interested in understanding the context of the work there's no sense in anyone putting any effort into providing you an art history dissertation.

Kimstu provided an excellent link that addresses the artist's legacy in layman's terms. It's brief and yet it is a fairly rich summary providing a foundation for any curious reader who wants to build a fuller understanding. Still, you place no value on the information provided nor any appreciation for Kimstu's effort.
#11
Old 05-15-2013, 05:19 AM
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These days, lots of art sells for millions of dollars. I often hear people say things like “My kid could have done that.” Well, the fact is, your kid DIDN'T do it. If that's all it takes, why isn't your kid doing it and raking in the bucks? You're likely to discover that your kid couldn't do it after all, that it takes talent and education and hard work just to make something that your kid could do just as well . . . if he only had the talent, education and hard work.

I am an artist, and nobody says that about my work. The art that I create takes an average of 6-8 weeks to do, and demands a great deal of creativity, precision and exhausting work. And it shows. But I also have to be supportive of art that's not so obviously hard to do, and maybe your kid could do it after all. Except that the artist did it, and your kid didn't. Nobody gets paid for art they could have done, but didn't.
#12
Old 05-15-2013, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bienville View Post
I read the OP and guessed Rothko.
So did I, but then I realized we already have four or five Rothko threads, so it just couldn't be that again. I'm certainly glad to learn about a new artist!
#13
Old 05-15-2013, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Maserschmidt View Post
I'm certainly glad to learn about a new artist!
Well, Newman's work was featured in Iron Man 2, so his level of prestige is sure to top Rothko's for a while still.
#14
Old 05-15-2013, 05:40 AM
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It is all about the self worth of the people who dictate that it is worth $44 million.

As a painting, devoid of any other context it either moves you or it doesn't and no single person gets to define it as "good" or "bad" for anyone but themselves.

However, I suspect that some people crave the power to define "good" and "bad" and quantify it in terms of dollars. They seem to be saying "If, by people listening to my opinion, I can lift an artwork to stratospheric prices then that someone validates my sense of good taste"
The more abstract and banal the artwork, the more influential that opinion must have been. By choosing polarising artwork it ensures that person will put more distance between themselves and those that "don't get it".
A lot of it is snobbery, as if you can buy "good taste".
It is possible that they like it for pure emotional reasons but In many cases I suspect the validation of critical power and judgement is at play.

However, as has been said. To know whether you will have a visceral and emotional response to a work you must go and see it. You wouldn't judge a movie by looking at stills and reading a script and the same goes for artwork.
#15
Old 05-15-2013, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by lawoot View Post
Are we sure that it's not a painting by Rabo Karabekian?
No, Karabekian does not do regular shapes.
#16
Old 05-15-2013, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
These days, lots of art sells for millions of dollars. I often hear people say things like “My kid could have done that.” Well, the fact is, your kid DIDN'T do it. If that's all it takes, why isn't your kid doing it and raking in the bucks? You're likely to discover that your kid couldn't do it after all, that it takes talent and education and hard work just to make something that your kid could do just as well . . . if he only had the talent, education and hard work.

I am an artist, and nobody says that about my work. The art that I create takes an average of 6-8 weeks to do, and demands a great deal of creativity, precision and exhausting work. And it shows. But I also have to be supportive of art that's not so obviously hard to do, and maybe your kid could do it after all. Except that the artist did it, and your kid didn't. Nobody gets paid for art they could have done, but didn't.
I think you are right here. One of the reasons it's impossible to fully appreciate paintings like this out of context is that they are no longer new. Everyone and their kid is now doing large abstract paintings, and you can see them on the walls of any corporate headquarters. That wasn't the case when these works were new, they were bold and challenging, and asked the question whether painting had intrinsic value in the era of photography.

All of this needs to be considered in addition to the question "do I like it?". In general with paintings, that can only be fully answered by seeing the original, and I find that effect is much stronger with abstracts.
#17
Old 05-15-2013, 05:52 AM
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Does a con artist count as an artist? Because the extent of its artistic merit is that some pillock managed to talk a lot of people into believing it has artistic merit.
#18
Old 05-15-2013, 05:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bienville View Post
Your dismissive "WTF?" OP clearly communicates that you don't want someone to explain the artistic merit of the work. "Someone explain the artistic merit of this painting to me" punctutated by "WTF?" is simple rhetoric for "I have decided this work has no artistic merit."

You then follow up with more dismissiveness.


Cafe Society is a perfectly appropriate forum to address a multimillion dollar price tag on a work of art as being teh st00pid, but if you're not really interested in understanding the context of the work there's no sense in anyone putting any effort into providing you an art history dissertation.

Kimstu provided an excellent link that addresses the artist's legacy in layman's terms. It's brief and yet it is a fairly rich summary providing a foundation for any curious reader who wants to build a fuller understanding. Still, you place no value on the information provided nor any appreciation for Kimstu's effort.
Yes, it's very clear I think the work has no artistic merit. Which is why I asked someone to explain to me their perspective on the artistic merit of the painting. Did Kimstu do so? No, he/she provided me a link which, in your own words talks about the artist's legacy, and not the painting in question. To which I responded quite politely I thought.

If you think that the painting itself has no artistic merit but instead relies on context and history for its place as art, ok, say so. If there is something inherently wonderful about what is going on in this painting, try explaining it to me, instead of being dismissive yourself. Your answer may or may not make sense to me, but it would be nice to see if there is a solid argument to be made, and if someone here can make it. If I've approached getting to this argument in the wrong way, I apologise. But yes, I place no value on non-answers.
#19
Old 05-15-2013, 06:27 AM
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I find it amusing that in spite all the pretentious posturing, no one has actually offered an explanation as to WHY this painting might be worth so much.


Apparently Barnett Newman was a big deal in the 50s as a "major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters". IOW, in the 50s and 60s, artists experimented a lot with minimalist paintings of big fields of color.

No, it's not Monet's Water Lilys. IMHO a lot of modern art looks like it could have come out of a 4th grade arts and crafts class (children...today we will paint "blue"). But a lot of art is trying new things and seeing the reaction. So much of the reason it costs so much is because of the historical content of the painting.
#20
Old 05-15-2013, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by bldysabba View Post
Yes, it's very clear I think the work has no artistic merit. Which is why I asked someone to explain to me their perspective on the artistic merit of the painting. Did Kimstu do so? No, he/she provided me a link which, in your own words talks about the artist's legacy, and not the painting in question. To which I responded quite politely I thought.

If you think that the painting itself has no artistic merit but instead relies on context and history for its place as art, ok, say so. If there is something inherently wonderful about what is going on in this painting, try explaining it to me, instead of being dismissive yourself. Your answer may or may not make sense to me, but it would be nice to see if there is a solid argument to be made, and if someone here can make it. If I've approached getting to this argument in the wrong way, I apologise. But yes, I place no value on non-answers.
You have had answers, you are choosing to dismiss them based on your judgement that the painting has no artistic merit, despite the fact that you have neither seen the painting nor understood it's place in art history. You are of course welcome to that opinion, but you should understand that it's meaningless.

To answer directly, based on seeing the reproductions and reading comments from people who have seen it, it's beautiful thought-provoking, and innovative. That, to me, seems sufficient that it's artistic merit should be unquestioned.

Last edited by Steophan; 05-15-2013 at 06:29 AM.
#21
Old 05-15-2013, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
I find it amusing that in spite all the pretentious posturing, no one has actually offered an explanation as to WHY this painting might be worth so much.
Of course they have. It's worth so much because someone is willing to pay that much. That's what "being worth" something means.
#22
Old 05-15-2013, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
To answer directly, based on seeing the reproductions and reading comments from people who have seen it, it's beautiful thought-provoking, and innovative. That, to me, seems sufficient that it's artistic merit should be unquestioned.
By what sane standard is this "innovative"? You are aware that people have been painting rectangles of solid colour for a long fucking time, yes?
#23
Old 05-15-2013, 06:47 AM
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Yep, folks sure are interested in having an open minded discussion. Uh-huh.
#24
Old 05-15-2013, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
You have had answers, you are choosing to dismiss them based on your judgement that the painting has no artistic merit, despite the fact that you have neither seen the painting nor understood it's place in art history. You are of course welcome to that opinion, but you should understand that it's meaningless.

To answer directly, based on seeing the reproductions and reading comments from people who have seen it, it's beautiful thought-provoking, and innovative. That, to me, seems sufficient that it's artistic merit should be unquestioned.
At the time of responding, I had one answer. Which didn't make a lot of sense to me. I still think a blue wall in a museum would evoke a response much more based on the fact that it had been thought worthy of being put up in a museum, not because of any intrinsic worth. Since so many people since then say seeing it in person is important, I happily concede that seeing paintings in person is important. You seem to have seen reproductions of this particular painting that affected you. Would you care to tell me why you thought a blue rectangle with a white stripe across the center is beautiful and thought-provoking?

To provide an example of what I'm saying, I've seen classical art that I liked, but I can tell you what impressed me about it. There may be an unusually well captured expression, a hue of the sky, a crazy good still life. Any number of things that speak about the talent and creative drive that went into the painting. Visible IN the painting. This painting - its sort of like a book which is blank except for one word in the middle. And that word is "The".

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Originally Posted by bienville View Post
Yep, folks sure are interested in having an open minded discussion. Uh-huh.
You don't seem to be interested in having a discussion at all, only in pointing out that other people aren't. Do step up.

Last edited by bldysabba; 05-15-2013 at 07:08 AM. Reason: Added response instead of making two.
#25
Old 05-15-2013, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by bldysabba View Post
This painting(nytimes link) sold for 44 million dollars. It consists of two blue rectangles, with one narrow white rectangle in the middle. WTF?
Hey, 44 million dollars is cheap for the reassurance that your fine new robes are, in fact, covering up Grand Imperial Majesty Junior.
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#26
Old 05-15-2013, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
Of course they have. It's worth so much because someone is willing to pay that much. That's what "being worth" something means.
Yeah...no shit. I think we all understand the definition of "worth".

The question is what makes people believe this painting is worth millions when to the untrained observer, it just appears to be a big blue square with a white racing stripe.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Grumman
By what sane standard is this "innovative"? You are aware that people have been painting rectangles of solid colour for a long fucking time, yes?
What's a long time? As I pointed out, a lot of these big blocks of color paintings are from 60 years ago.

I mean I don't really get it either. But I suppose because this particular piece represents an important artist from a particular artistic movement, I guess there is a lot of hype around it.
#27
Old 05-15-2013, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
But can anyone explain why somebody would look at that painting and feel that it has any significant artistic merit?
Sure - color field paintings are big and kinda hypnotic. When you are in the same room and looking at the painting, you can...."lose yourself" in one in a pretty cool way.

It really is that simple - at the time these paintings were created, paintings were expected to be "of something" more than they were supposed to trigger your eyes and brain in hypnotic ways. Abstract Expressionism was controversial then and now because it was trying to show that painting could try to achieve something different.

As for $44 million, value, etc. - please acknowledge that this is an extreme example. With art and collectibles at the far end of price ranges, someone with money and passion clearly feels it is worth it...

It is easy to, I don't know, "get offended" - but this is just an extreme example of choices each of us make every day where we pay a premium for some things and go for the cheapest example for others. Welcome to capitalism and the human condition.
#28
Old 05-15-2013, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Grumman View Post
By what sane standard is this "innovative"? You are aware that people have been painting rectangles of solid colour for a long fucking time, yes?
No, this guy was one of the first. You're quite welcome to dislike this painting, or this whole style, but saying it's worthless because you don't understand it is the worst kind of wilful ignorance.
#29
Old 05-15-2013, 08:21 AM
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Yeah...no shit. I think we all understand the definition of "worth".

The question is what makes people believe this painting is worth millions when to the untrained observer, it just appears to be a big blue square with a white racing stripe.
Because it's important, and it's unique, and the purchaser expects it to hold it's value.

The middle one - the fact that, like all paintings, it's a one-off - is the reason paintings are, in general, more valuable than other works of art. Music and literature are designed to be duplicated, paintings aren't.
#30
Old 05-15-2013, 09:03 AM
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$44 million dollars for that. It makes me feel....incredible sadness, even despair.
#31
Old 05-15-2013, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by bldysabba View Post
You don't seem to be interested in having a discussion at all, only in pointing out that other people aren't. Do step up.
Yeah, I’m not going to play this game where we pretend “I think this sucks. Prove me wrong” isn’t a dishonest premise.

I’m not going to prove you wrong. Art appreciation is subjective. There’s no proving that one person’s response is right and another is wrong. So, I’m not going to invest any meaningful effort into proving that the work has artistic merit. Why is it meaningful to me? I’ve never seen it. I’m not about to expound upon the deeply felt effect I’ve experienced from a piece of art I’ve never seen, that would just be bullshit posturing the likes of which the “Art should look like stuff” contingent want to insist amounts to the sum total of any “appreciation” of abstract art.

I’ve stood in front of paintings that have evoked a strong emotional response from me while the painting hanging right next to it stirs absolutely nothing in me. The emotion may have nothing to do with the artist’s intent whatsoever. The person standing next to me is probably connecting to the piece in a completely different way. The abstract opens up a broad range of experiences that far surpass “the artist wanted me to experience a puppy, so he painted a puppy.”

A person’s emotional response to a painting can lead to self reflection, stir up powerful memories, challenge beliefs, raise questions. One person can at age 20 view a painting and experience a challenge or an insight into a truth, then that same person can view the same painting at age 40 and be stirred to something completely different, then view it at age 60 and experience yet another response.

Some paintings will do this for one or two people while everyone else passes by without taking notice. Other paintings will evoke a strong response from 100 or 1,000 or 10,000,000 different people. These paintings will gain recognition for such wide reaching impact precisely because such an impact is rare. For one person to create multiple works that each achieve such impact is something most artists can only ever dream of.

“Why is this worth $44M?” is also a meaningless question. It’s not. There is nothing of any intrinsic monetary value about the layering of paint upon this or any other canvass.

Despite all your insistence that the value be attributed only to what is in the painting, fact of the matter is that the artist himself as well as the historic context of the work is extremely significant. Barnett Newman’s work has touched millions of people and the reason why will never be tabulated in a checklist of “Why Painting A is better than Painting B”. He put his own emotion, perspective, truth, and sense of self into his work. He put all that into mixing his colors to the precise hue that spoke to him (or did you think he just opened a can or Behr blue from Home Depot?), he put his own unique sensibilities into the rhythms of his brushstrokes, the texture to which he built the layers of paint, the balance of the composition- why doesn’t the line through the blue field go through the center? Why isn’t the line straight edged on either side like the borders of the blue field?

Nothing about any of this makes the painting good- it all just makes the painting uniquely his. And his paintings are recognized as important because his paintings have evoked an emotional response from multitudes of people from all walks of life in a way that has transcended decades whereas the paintings of a million artists whose names will never be remembered have not made any comparable impact.

So, you can insist that any validation of this work prove that a value of $44M can be found in the painting itself but I will continue to dismiss your opinion as nonsense. The fact that it is a work by Barnett Newman will forever be the primary criterion for its monetary value. Newman’s work has had a profound effect on so many who have experienced it and the only way to experience the work is to actually experience the physical work. Publishers can print off a million copies of Huckleberry Finn every year for a millions years- that is not something that can be done with a painting. The number of Barnett Newman paintings that exist is finite, and each one is unique.

The $44M is for the privilege of stewardship. It’s a vision, owing to the number of people who have been moved by Newman’s work over the decades, that 100 years from now there may be a young person who will stand in front of this painting and experience something, be touched, recognize something about herself, and say “Jesus Christ! I am fucking feeling something, ergo sum!”


Or, it’s just “a painting of two rectangles”, since we all know that anyone who appreciates an abstract work of art is just feebly trying to project a façade that will convince people they are smart.
#32
Old 05-15-2013, 09:14 AM
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Serious(ish) question from me. Just above halfway down the painting it looks like the artist fucked up a bit and didn't keep his colour within the lines. On both sides, too, with more wobbles towards the top. Was that deliberate, or was he just so slapdash he didn't give a shit?


My own take is that the worth of art like this is almost wholly about "who you know". If you, as an artist, manage to get yourself into the right social circles and have a rich collector buy some of your work, then your work suddenly becomes "important" and so the snowball effect can begin. Soon you won't even have to create your work yourself: you can just employ "assistants" to do variations on a theme and sit in a back room counting the cash, like Damien Hirst with his dots, very few of which were ever done by him personally.

Don't get me wrong: I quite like it aesthetically. It's a nice colour. But I don't call anything I could create a pretty exact copy of myself "art", because I know I am rubbish at art. If I can do it, it's not worth money.


Edit: amusingly, either Wikipaintings or the guys in the OP have got that painting upside down. That link shows the wobbly bits towards the bottom of the canvas; on the NY Times picture they're to the top.

Last edited by Colophon; 05-15-2013 at 09:19 AM.
#33
Old 05-15-2013, 09:21 AM
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I missed bienville's post addressing the fact that the edges of the white line are not straight. I still reckon I could come up with a similarly wobbly edge, though.
#34
Old 05-15-2013, 09:22 AM
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Newman was not really appreciated in his time, so if he sought to paint plain rectangles for beaucoup bucks, you'd think he'd have moved on to something more lucrative instead.
#35
Old 05-15-2013, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
No, this guy was one of the first.
You actually believe this? That the art of painting solid rectangles of colour with household paints wasn't discovered until the 20th century? Hell, even if you do, Dulux has been doing it since Pollock was six.

Quote:
You're quite welcome to dislike this painting, or this whole style, but saying it's worthless because you don't understand it is the worst kind of wilful ignorance.
Understand which one, the painting, or the sycophants?
#36
Old 05-15-2013, 09:29 AM
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I have been a fine art appraiser for over 14 years. I have appraised a number of abstract art works, including color field art, and including Barnett Newman's work.

A little bit of background:
Onement 1 is considered Newman's breakthrough work. He finished it on his birthday in 1948. It's currently in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. Like this work it has two fields of the same color interrupted by a "zip" (Newman's term) down the middle. The original zip was ragged and not nearly as pristine as this one. It doesn't matter if it's pristine: Newman's a color field artist not a hard-edge artist.

This is the sixth in the series. These are considered his most valuable works. Most of Newman's work sells in the range of $20,000-$100,000. Onement 5 sold at Christie's in New York on May 8, 2012 for $22.5 Million. The color fields were a darker blue, and the zip was a different shade and intensity of blue. The zip in Onement 6 is white, giving more contrast, thus, believe it or not, upping the value.

The idea he's presenting here (and it works better with a bigger painting than a smaller one), is that you are the zip and the fields represent life and the world trying to wear you down, assimilate you, make you less than you are. And that can fray you at times (which is why the line's not perfect). Kurt Vonnegut explains Barnett Newman's art in a similar fashion in a couple of his books (but I don't recall which ones right now). In the late 1940's through the 1960's the alienation this represents was a major theme in art.

Still don't like it? Fine. Part of the deal with the Modern Art crowd is that the everyday masses aren't supposed to like it. You have to be one of the cognoscenti, the in-crowd, and possess superior aesthetic sense to like it. Anybody can like a painting of mountains at sunset, but those in the know will like a white line on a blue background even more. The Nouveau Riche, who want to appear as if they have this aesthetic even when they don't, will let themselves be led by art buyers who are supposed to understand this.

Sometimes it's good, and sometimes the emperor has no clothes.

I hope this helps.
#37
Old 05-15-2013, 09:34 AM
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Awesome summation, Professor.
#38
Old 05-15-2013, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
Sometimes it's good, and sometimes the emperor has no clothes.
When does one know which is which?
#39
Old 05-15-2013, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Are you upset at the monetary value attached to this artwork, or do you just not like it as a painting?

If it's the price tag that's bothering you, remember that the art market isn't determined by questions of intrinsic value. No piece of painted canvas or hunk of marble is technically "worth" millions of dollars as a material object. It's worth whatever people are willing to pay for it.

If you actually want to learn something about the painting in your link, and understand more about why some people are in fact willing to pay millions of dollars for an abstract expressionist/minimalist type of painting, you might read up on Barnett Newman here, for instance.

If you just don't like the painting and wouldn't pay $44 million for it even if you had the odd $44 million to spare, that's okay. There isn't some magic absolute standard of "artistic merit" by which everybody is expected to agree on the worth of paintings.
This is a lovely and proper post.

Art is by its very nature subjective. I like the piece in the article. Certainly not enough to pay $44 million even if I had a spare $44 million to spare, but I think it's a nice enough piece.

I very much have this view on art, though: if it makes you react, it's done its job*. Even if your reaction is to say WTF is that and who would pay $44 million for it? Perhaps if you consider the entire transaction as part of the art it might help.

*Which definitely opens my mind to many different genres of art.

ETA: The Professor's post was pretty darn good, too.

Last edited by Anaamika; 05-15-2013 at 09:58 AM.
#40
Old 05-15-2013, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
When does one know which is which?
Study art history. Find out who is important because he contributed to the expansion of the visual medium, and who is merely talented and apeing the styles and manners of others. Newman's zip counts as a contribution, but it's not enought to make him as big a name as Ellsworth Kelly or Piet Mondrian.

Oh, and works done earlier in the artist's ouevre are usually more desirable than later: Picasso, at the end of his life, was paid by art dealers just to sign his name on blank pages, and other artists would come in and fill them in with Picasso-esque imagery.
#41
Old 05-15-2013, 10:04 AM
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Awesome summation, Professor.
Agreed. Finally.

I suspect that others in this thread couldn't explain why this piece was important so instead they relied on arguing about the price tag, something most didn't have an issue with. It's beyond obvious that something is worth what people are willing to pay.
#42
Old 05-15-2013, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
Edit: amusingly, either Wikipaintings or the guys in the OP have got that painting upside down. That link shows the wobbly bits towards the bottom of the canvas; on the NY Times picture they're to the top.
That is hilarious! I'm pretty sure Wikipaintings has it wrong because one, it's Wikipaintings, but then I did a quick Google search, and while several pages have it upside down, the photos of the painting in person are all presented as it is in the NYT article.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
Study art history. Find out who is important because he contributed to the expansion of the visual medium, and who is merely talented and apeing the styles and manners of others. Newman's zip counts as a contribution, but it's not enought to make him as big a name as Ellsworth Kelly or Piet Mondrian.

Oh, and works done earlier in the artist's ouevre are usually more desirable than later: Picasso, at the end of his life, was paid by art dealers just to sign his name on blank pages, and other artists would come in and fill them in with Picasso-esque imagery.
That suggests to me that sometimes expensive artworks don't have much artistic value, but are worth heaps of money because of who painted them. Which is fine and reasoning I get, but it seems like the answer to the question "Which is which?" is "I don't know; sometimes they're just worth a lot of money anyway because the artist is important." Right?
#43
Old 05-15-2013, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
Study art history. Find out who is important because he contributed to the expansion of the visual medium, and who is merely talented and apeing the styles and manners of others. Newman's zip counts as a contribution, but it's not enought to make him as big a name as Ellsworth Kelly or Piet Mondrian.

Oh, and works done earlier in the artist's ouevre are usually more desirable than later: Picasso, at the end of his life, was paid by art dealers just to sign his name on blank pages, and other artists would come in and fill them in with Picasso-esque imagery.
So part of understanding (and perhaps ultimately appreciating) this piece and many others is in providing context for it. That makes sense. So it isn't enough to say....

"Two blue rectangles. One white line. $44M. Thoughts?...."
#44
Old 05-15-2013, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by MeanOldLady View Post
That suggests to me that sometimes expensive artworks don't have much artistic value, but are worth heaps of money because of who painted them. Which is fine and reasoning I get, but it seems like the answer to the question "Which is which?" is "I don't know; sometimes they're just worth a lot of money anyway because the artist is important." Right?
I think the term "artistic value" is entirely subjective. Everyone is a critic.
#45
Old 05-15-2013, 10:20 AM
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Artistic merit and sale prices are two different things. Art has become an "investment vehicle" for rich people.

This was touched on on a recent episode of "This American Life" -- http://thisamericanlife.org/radi...ure-show?act=2

Anyone identified by the Saatchi Gallery as a hot artist finds that they can't produce fast enough to sell to collectors.

The artist in the radio story talked about how it's great that this allows her to live the life she wants, as a full-time artist, but it conflicts with the artist's impulse to create works that people will see -- many of these buyers just keep her paintings in storage waiting for the value to go up, instead of displaying them.
#46
Old 05-15-2013, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
So part of understanding (and perhaps ultimately appreciating) this piece and many others is in providing context for it. That makes sense. So it isn't enough to say....

"Two blue rectangles. One white line. $44M. Thoughts?...."
No, because titling it Onement 6 shows its continuity with Onement 1, and that the symbolism is to be associated with this piece as well. For the artist, it's a statement that he considers this to be one of his major pieces.

On a more mundane level, Mars bars in the US were renamed Snickers Almond in order to cash in on the Snickers more profitable name.
#47
Old 05-15-2013, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
The artist in the radio story talked about how it's great that this allows her to live the life she wants, as a full-time artist, but it conflicts with the artist's impulse to create works that people will see -- many of these buyers just keep her paintings in storage waiting for the value to go up, instead of displaying them.
I think...I could just about manage to suffer through that. It would be difficult, mind you.
#48
Old 05-15-2013, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by MeanOldLady View Post
That suggests to me that sometimes expensive artworks don't have much artistic value, but are worth heaps of money because of who painted them. Which is fine and reasoning I get, but it seems like the answer to the question "Which is which?" is "I don't know; sometimes they're just worth a lot of money anyway because the artist is important." Right?
Right. Fine art is the ultimate in brand name recognition. Most of the buying public is uninformed, and art dealers and auction houses capitalize on that.
#49
Old 05-15-2013, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
I think the term "artistic value" is entirely subjective. Everyone is a critic.
Well right, that is subjective. Obviously.

But when someone says sometimes it's great (again, we all know "great" is subjective -- not up for debate) and sometimes it's a naked emperor, saying the way to differentiate between the two depends on the context of the artist and the particular piece sounds to me like "Okay, from just looking at the painting alone, sometimes you can't tell." So then audience or buyer will at times be interested in an artwork he may not find particularly inspiring, as having it is important in large part because of the artist's/work's significance.

But on preview I see the Professor responded to me, and fair enough. Sometimes I feel like some kind of rube when I look at paintings like the one in the OP and go "It's pretty, but it's not that pretty." But it turns out I am a rube, not for being unmoved by the painting, but because I don't know anything about Newman.
#50
Old 05-15-2013, 10:27 AM
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I rather like it. The blue is quite luminous, and I really like how the brush strokes show and it gets darker around the edge. Like a photography vignette. That plus the ultra-bright white stripe really makes it pop. It kinda looks like a modernistic painting of a cobalt glass vase and the white is light reflecting off it.

Anybody have an idea of what pigment he used? Probably cobalt, maybe some Prussian Blue for the darker areas. Was phthalocyanine available then?
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