Why these all-white paintings are in museums and mine aren’t

Why these all-white paintings are in museums and mine aren’t

It’s almost kind of like a blank canvas
with some, like some texture. I do see a white dot there but I don’t know
if that’s supposed to be there. It looks like something I would cook on,
like a baking sheet. Could be a lot of flies stuck to
a bit of paper. Yeah, ’cause I would put this down on my
floor, my floor tiles. These people are describing Robert Ryman’s
painting “Bridge.” It sold for $20.6 million at a Christie’s
auction in 2015. How is an all-white painting considered art, and why would anyone shell out millions for
something like this? There are a lot of these “white paintings.” Many people trace them back to Kazimir Malevich’s
1918 work “White on White.” But there are many artists who created these
kinds of paintings: Most of these artists were associated with
an art movement called minimalism, which emerged in the late
1950s. When I say the minimalists I mean minimalism
with a capital M, not a lowercase. This is Elisabeth Sherman, she’s an assistant
curator at the Whitney Museum in New York. It’s tempting to look at one of these paintings
and think that some jerk just took a tube of white paint and spread it on a canvas — but it’s not actually that easy. I mean mine rules, obviously, because I’m
a f****** genius, but there’s usually a lot more than meets the
eye. White isn’t really a pure thing. White is
always tinted in some way. Paint is made up of a variety of pigments. If you’ve ever painted the walls of your house,
you know how many different whites there are to choose from. And maybe if you only look at one it looks
like pure white, but when you hold them up in an array you
can see the subtle differences. It’s blue, it’s green, it’s purple, it’s warm,
it’s cold. And when you get close— HEY! Not too close, there’s a lot going on here. Lines, texture, patterns, even color. There are a lot of subtle intricacies that
make it more than “just a white canvas.” Minimalist artists wanted their work to embody
order, simplicity, and harmony. These artists began with these ideas as a
rejection of abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism was a movement of artists
in the 1940s and 50s who thought that art should be gestural, expressive,
and emotional, evoking the unconscious mind through movement
and color. So if we think about Jackson Pollock as being
kind of the abstract expressionist that many people
think of, you can take that picture of him with the
canvas on the floor of his studio spilling paints everywhere, and it’s his gesture, it’s his physical body,
it’s his arm, it’s who he is as a person that’s creating that canvas, that painting. Minimalists weren’t about that. All that paint splashing everywhere? No thanks. There was a lot of desire to get away from
that sensibility where the individual’s expression was put
into the canvas. The idea was that the art object — be it
sculpture or painting or installation — should kind of be as far removed from the author as possible. You can see what she means when you compare
the two schools of art. Okay, you get it. Minimalist artists stripped art of the burden
of being about “something else.” They presented art not as an imitation of
reality but as an object unto itself. Artist Frank Stella summed it up nicely when
he said, One of my favorite things about modern art
is the rage that it seems to provoke in some people. Cue videos of men freaking out: I’m not gonna sit there and try to find
a meaning in a red circle on a blank white canvas, ’cause I’m not gonna find any meaning. I may not understand art
but I do understand the English language, and that’s pretentious nonsense. Did you see the painting that was just a white
painting that had nothing on it? It’s like super pretentious meets uber pretentious. Modern art sets. people. off. And believe me when I say that I am here for
it. But with modern art, by definition every interpretation
is genuine and legitimate and okay. Or not, how about not? I love it. There’s even an entire play about a group
of lifelong friends who are torn apart when one of them buys an all-white painting for $200,000. With a very kind of absent blank painting
you have to do a lot more work in some ways than maybe you have to do with, let’s say,
pop art that has tons of obvious references and you see the Coca-Cola or the American
flag and you can say, I have all of these relationships with these objects with these brands with
these things. When you’re looking at simply a square of
white paint, you have to do a lot more work, but sometimes there maybe is something more
rewarding in the end. Another common reaction to modern art, specifically minimalist pieces like white
paintings is, c’mon, say it with me now, Almost no matter what show I’ve worked on
in my career somebody has said that. While there is a lot of skill in a lot of
modern and contemporary art there’s also a lot of art that is more about
the idea than it is about skill. And so yes you could do it but you didn’t. Damn Elisabeth. And that may sound obnoxious or flip but the reality is is that once art begins
to live just as much in the mind as it does in the eye you have to bring your ideas
as well as your physical construction of the work. White paintings are a fascinating kind of
Rorschach test. They offer viewers an ambiguous, I’m so
sorry, but, canvas to project their own interpretations, emotions,
beliefs, and stories onto. So if looking at a white painting makes you
feel angry or excited or soothed, those are all
valid responses. But take a moment to think about why that
was your response. It’s very easy to be dismissive of things
that we’re not immediately attracted to. So if you have a kind of negative gut reaction,
one of defensiveness or fear or anxiety or rejection maybe try to move past that and see what’s
available afterwards. And it doesn’t have to change your mind, but it’s sometimes the process of working
through that reaction that you learn the most about
the work but also about yourself.

100 thoughts on “Why these all-white paintings are in museums and mine aren’t

  1. Also make sure to check out the other Vox video about what the formula is for selling a million-dollar work of art https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCT-UL2M8Gc

  2. Friends: why do you have a framed blank canvas hanging in the room
    Me: why, it's modern art and I'll fetch 100 billion someday

  3. Its awful that there are "men" freaking out about modern art, thank God there is this man who is not freaking out to explain it to me.

  4. people have done it, but the art world is such a money hungry scheme that many artists never get to see their work in a gallery

  5. Everyone wants to be an artist and to be considered cultured and different. So everything is considered art now. Also political correctness. You can't critique anything.

    I have a blank, I mean white canvas that I spent months doing nothing on now tell me your bids starting price is 5 million.

  7. "……I've worked on in my career….". No darling u dont have a career u may as well be curating at a hardware store…

  8. Nobody "painted" a white canvas white before because that's ridiculous. If anyone did, I bet the first person to do so was a kindergarten-er.

  9. A LOT MORE WORK?????? what work? I can make one in about 5 minutes. Ridiculous. Also, more work does not equal great art or enjoyment of such.

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  11. If I can't see something does it mean its not there?
    How anyone could fork out 22 million for a canvas of nothing but white paint is making nothing appear to be something but only in a monetary way.

    I prefer 20 dollar knock offs that at least show some kind of image, but that's just me.

  12. I love the idea of someone mounting their 20 million dollar white-washed painting on their considerably cheap white-washed wall.

  13. so what your saying is i can take a piece of paper and draw some lines on it, it's art.

  14. Me: Look i draw the bridge!
    Art critique: No, you're not there's an invincible line on your canvas….. You disappointed me!

  15. With regards to the white painting and the “I could do that” I have done it and haven’t made $20 million, I actually did it 100 times when I bought paper for my printer

  16. Circle, white or splashes of color, yeah as an artist it makes me sick that someone would pay 1,000,000$ for a dot or white paint. It's only considered ART, because one rich person associated with a small cabal decide who they like. It usually has nothing to do with beauty or ability. You should watch the Paul Joseph Watson video about it. It is extremely snobbish and doesn't represent anything. It's shock. That's all. Michelangelo would puke.

  17. When this (3:24) is the best argument you have, you know you have lost all credibility, Vox. And I really thought this to be a good channel…

  18. This woman irritates me, it's all about skill not idea. Idea is what helps create the skills, you want to draw a cat? Good idea, go draw it and you will gain the skill.

  19. I don't think it's the philosophy of modern art that sets most people off. It's the fact that someone could make 20 k without really putting in that much effort because some "Interpreted" their painting as having some deep and profound meaning and ideal. That those artists that spend years perfecting their ability to draw and create not only imitations of life but new objects and creatures most of us have never seen and poured so much effort and time into making something that would captivate and appeal to us are getting pushed to the side in favor of paintings that are at the very most a study where the artist is playing with color or trying to make a "statement" through painting something simple. I think that's what sets people off mostly. at least that's what sets me off. I can see the emotion in art, but another big part of art is technique and appreciation of the skills involved.

  20. so, they're basically selling you one of those moments: "staring up at the ceiling thinking about life moments". You can buy a ceiling for less then 20mil

  21. Technically speaking: anybody who Gessos their canvass with white-ish pigment has created one of these BS paintings – so, the lady is wrong…we have done it & it was easy…I’d like my $$ millions now please.

  22. "you could do that, but you didn't". so basically, if I do the same, but replace it with black, I'm a millionaire? I did it first!"

  23. "Why would anyone shell out millions for something like this?" "Because they have more money than brains, a lot more money…" … That said, it's sort of like bitcoin, expensive and worthless. EDIT: I also want to say, I understand the art, I think it is a worthwhile statement and I appreciate it for what it is. Just not a 20 million dollars worth of statement. I'd rather see that 20 million dollars be put into renewable energy or something that is a statement to high ideals, but at the same time has real tangible benefits to society. Maybe this was a charity auction or something.

  24. It's only valid to me as a new experiment, as something that brings a new perspective to "art". But all those things have been acknowledged long ago and have been overdone since.

  25. i nether see minimalism and abstract as art most of the time. art takes skill and practice Not anyone can do it. but good on them for being able to do that hussle.

  26. I liked how articulate and eloquently she spoke. But I don't get it. It's just something for rich people to spend money on.

  27. This reminds me of two things. The excellent short work "The Painted Word" by Thomas Wolfe about how art critics defined a lot of what is art in the 50s and 60s (this minimalist period). Also Kurt Vonnegut's sister who said you can go into a museum and say good, bad, … Personally most of this stuff does nothing for me. I can say that about a lot of medieval Christian work too.

  28. if its more (if not all) about the idea, why dont you tell me about your deep and profound ideas then? instead of making me stare at nothing. why dont you write a philosophy book or something?

  29. Still doesn’t take a genius to paint something like that. Maybe if it has two different whites so what it’s just painting with two colors

  30. 5:36
    Mate its a white canvas, i really don't feel anything. Y'know, if it had anything on it then maybe i could take some emotion from it, but i could get the same effect by quite literally staring at my wall.

  31. you can only appreciate minimal art if you know what time and context it was made in. Minimal artists know their painting upset and provoke people, but the art isn't the white painting, it's the viewer and his/her feelings and reaction towards the painting. So everyone getting upset by minimal art is doing exactly what minimal art is inteded for.

  32. I am an artist myself, and I could understand why it may be art to some, but it’s very difficult for me to see it as art. I don’t see the value in paying thousands of dollars for a white canvas. At that point you’re not paying for the art but for the artist name. It’s sad to say that sometimes when it comes to art, it’s not about the art itself but the value of the artist name. Art shouldn’t be about the value of someone’s name but the creation and idea of someone’ mind

  33. Me – does white wash in my room

    Goesssss to the top of my house and screams sale for 22 million dollers anyone interested!!! Its modern art

  34. Artist: *creates blank white painting
    Museums,Art galleries: *pays 26million dollars for it
    Artist: cha cha real smooth

  35. art1
    the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. A white painting just makes feel so alive and I'm so moved by it

  36. It's been a long time since a video actually helped me understand something that I had found confusing. Thank you. I appreciate the informative curator and the humorous presenter. Vox has certainly given me something to ponder.🧠

  37. Wasn't there a painting done by an elephant that sold for millions…all these pot smokers were imagining the imagination of that elephant while watching it.🤔.

  38. whatever her explanation was, modern art like white canvas is not artistic for me. Where's the effort to create that art? How can you express something that is only totally white?

  39. I was expecting 'oh maybe there are variation of thickness of that white painting that can form another hidden object'.. Never been so wrong. Just white, that's it. Nothing more

  40. amazing how this guy made over a million dollars for a blank canvas but i made $0.36 off of a sticker with my art on it

  41. Some people think being a modern artist is easy but you have to have the innovation to make something different even if it is simple. If it was so easy everyone would be an artist but that's not the case because only some have actually skill and innovation.

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