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Canvas Painted Blue with a White Line Sells for $44 Million

May 16, 2013 By Abraham

“Onement VI” from abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman sold on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at a Sotheby’s auction for a record-setting 43.8 million dollars.

This is what you missed out on, assuming you’re not the buyer…

Below you can see a couple of people experiencing how — as Sotheby’s describes it —

Newman overwhelms and seduces the viewer with the totality of its sensual, cascading washes of vibrant blue coexisting with Newman’s vertical “Sign” of the human presence, his iconic and revolutionary “zip.”

Newman painted this 8.5′ x 10′ masterpiece in 1953. Here he is with it in his studio in 1961…

“Onement VI” should not be confused with Newman’s earlier work “Cathedra” from 1951…

Barnett Newman's Cathedra

Via Seattle Pi, All Art NewsDaily Mail

Previously: World’s most expensive photo just sold for $4.3 million


        1. ProfessionalGun says:

          Yeah, this does seem ridiculous at first glance. I’m trying to consider that art collectors are often interested in simply owning a piece of an artist’s body of work, regardless of its complexity or modern day relevance. I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt that Barnett Newman, who died in 1970, really made an impact with this piece and others like it in 1953 – a time when something this abstract might’ve really seemed stunning, and might’ve influenced the direction of style and design moving forward.

          My guess is that without the artist’s notoriety and history, it would be impossible to sell a piece like this for $44 million.

          1. Barbara Holtzman says:

            You would think that if he had made that much of a contribution that he would be a bit more known 60 years later. I’ve never heard of him.

          2. Cosmin says:

            Money laundering through art. That’s even the name of a book from Amazon (haven’t read it) as first google result.

          3. Bekki says:

            It might not be much now but as you said, something like this in the 50’s would have been very controversial, so the history is a very important part of it. Also if he did this freehand it is quite amazing as I can’t even draw and I in a straight line haha. And people don’t dis the artist as he did it to put what he felt in imagery and it is a beautiful way to express yourself.. Dis the people who said that this is worth 44 million, and even worse the people who bought it who probably know nothing of what real art is.. (studied art for over 5 years and the stuff you will see will leave you flabbergasted, but it is never the artists fault, unless he is the one selling it, because artists just express themselves in whatever way they can, it’s the people who deem to know what these paintings really mean and that would pay that amount of money are the ones who are really stupid [but hey i should shut up coz they are the people who are keeping artists like me in business :P ])

          4. Nancy Hall says:

            I agree, ProfessionalGun. and Barbara Holtzman…Barnett Newman is quite famous, but you would have to know something about modern art to recognize his name. He was an influential figure in the art world, which is why the painting sold for as much as it did. It’s unfortunate that art has become a commodity these days. The price is high, probably due in part to rarity. I don’t imagine Newman’s wind up on the auction block very often.

          5. S.Stern says:

            you are correct. there is more value in providence and history than there is in the collective decision that a work is ‘good’ or needed high competency to produce.

        2. Jim Somers says:

          It’s like what Steve Martin, in the movie “The Jerk” said after tasting caviar for the first time: “tastes like fish eggs to me.”

    1. Irena M says:

      Same here Josh…I could try to be funny, or sarcastic, or mean.
      Let the “artists” and enthusiasts of this “art” voice their opinions.
      BTW: the white line has no sharp borders, very uneven. I would not pay for it $44 mil, maybe 43. LOL…

      1. Jamal says:

        I am stunningly speechless! Meh, I guess it’s alright. I love arts but I really don’t understand artists at times.

        Irena, I would have said the same. lol.

    2. Snoopy says:

      Watching this painting as an abstract painting, i see that the painting was based on sex, lust, greed, burning fire, happiness for one, pain for the other also there are three persons on the left to the bottom of the painting… man so much to be said about this painting i wanna cry, wish i can see it in real :/

    3. Richard says:


      I cannot believe some of the pretentious rubbish posted here. There is a lot of expressionism and modern art that is magnificent and challenging, and that makes anyone with sensitivity stop and think.

      This, on the other hand, is a joke.

      Someone is going to wake up and think to themselves that they had a nightmare in which they paid over forty million US for a bit of blue canvas with a white line down the middle of it. Then they are going to check their bank statement and start crying.

      This is neither expressionism or modern art. It is a massive piss take.

      1. Dick says:

        Hello Richard. i am with you 100%. This is a big hoax and should not be considered art. A house painter could do a better job.

    4. OBloodyHell says:

      About 2 decades ago, Discover magazine did a piece on Animal Art — that is, put paints, brushes, and canvas in the hands of various animals (chimps, elephants, a dog, I think) and see what they create.

      Discover then took a couple works from these animals to modern art critics to have them judge them, without telling the critics of the provenance of the works.

      The critics generally had good things to say about the works. Discover took this to be a positive commentary on the artistic and aesthetic merits of animals.

      At no point does it appear to occur to the Discover writers or editors that the critic’s approval of the works says far less about the artistic merits of animals than it does about the artistic and aesthetic merits of Modern “Art”…

  1. Jesse G says:

    Just as it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,
    It’s not what you do, it’s what name is signed in the corner.

    1. Marie says:

      there should be a love button here…. you absolutely get it. A fool and his money will soon be parted…

    1. slayerwulfe says:

      the masking tape pulled off some of the paint, it’s a technique all the great artist use to make it look like they painted it that way.

      1. Emily says:

        It’s not that the masking tape pulled off some of the paint. If he used masking tape the paint leaches underneath the tape. He would have painted the entire canvas the light blue so that any “holidays,” the areas of dark blue where the paint was missed (the bottom left panel has a few) are more pleasant to look at than if it were against the colour of the canvas. Then any tape would be applied followed by the dark blue paint.

  2. Paula says:

    Wow, I know how to get rich now. I could do that blindfolded. Some people don’t quite deserve what they get.

    1. Corvus says:

      Nope, you just don’t get it. It doesn’t matter if you can do this, blindfold or otherwise. It’s not the artist who gets rich, it’s the collectors who wait like vultures for the artist to die, and then start jacking up the prices. In Canada “Voice Of Fire” was purchased for $1.76 million in 1989 and caused a huge controversy. Newman was already dead and it was purchased from his estate. Considering it has a far more substantial historical provenance if it ever came up for auction it would beat this price handily I’m sure. (it was first exhibited in the American Pavilion designed by Buckminster Fuller at the Montreal Expo of 1967)

  3. Will T says:

    This is why trickle down never trickles down. You see when you have everything you start to spend it on crap like this. I don’t think one person really finds this so beautiful it would bring tears to their eyes. To them it is either commodity or a status symbol. One is equal to saving your spider man #1 and the other is retarded.

  4. daniel says:

    RabbleRabbleRabble I don’t understand it or it doesn’t speak to me or I wouldn’t pay that much for it or I don’t like it or my 6 year old kid could paint that Rabble Rabble Rabble subjective experiences should only be valued at what I think they should be valued at rabble rabble rabble modern art sucks and this is proof I’m voicing my displeasure at something rabble rabble!

    (A brief summary of the comments thus far)

    1. Carol says:

      Maybe you can try to explain to us all the vslue of what you’re seeing and we obviously aren’t?

    2. Bryce Smith says:

      Sorry it sucks. It’s a huge waste of paint. Also it is insulting to other that actually study the way light behaves and apply that knowledge: Good Design, Good Composition, Mood Setting, Warm vs. Cool, Anatomy, Texture, Proportion, Subsurface Scattering, Caustics, Stroke Economy, Value, Form Shapes, Edges, Color Theory, Atmospheric Perspective, Perspective, Design layouts, Initial Read, Rhythm, Detail. Should I go any further? This is kindergarten crap.

      1. Terri says:

        Must be nice to pretend that you understand art. I’m a non-objective artist (many mistakenly call it abstract) and no, your 3 year old could not produce something like this. This painting is about color and emotion. I suppose it needs to be a bowl of fruit to fit your criteria. You are also observing a photo of the work. Nothing can replace observing it in real life. Everyone is a critic, I suppose. Some are just more qualified than others.

        1. Mel says:

          Emotion? Please explain how you can see emotion in that ‘painting’? What are you able to see that most of us can’t?

    3. Sylvester says:

      Someone forgot to feed the troll ? There’s always one of these isn’t there ? Sobbing on general opinions is okay I guess, but taking the time to put it in a comment using a Southpark ref… get a life, or state an actual opinion so people can moan over yours as you do on theirs.

    1. Andy says:

      Nothing. If just any abstract work sold for millions, Art programs would be flooded with students trying to make some quick money.

  5. slayerwulfe says:

    the greatest work of art i have yet seen is curiosity the mars rover and it’s the reason young has no use or concern for old.

    slayerwulfe cave

  6. Sane says:

    Kudos to the guy who bought it!
    May it adorn his walls for years to come but if, if this sells again I swear to myself I will never trust in human race again and go live in the wilderness and mate with goats.

  7. MXC says:

    It’s…it’s just a line. Why can’t concept art be worth half or even a tenth as much as this?

  8. Eric says:

    I’m not gonna lie: I’m not a fan of most abstract art, but I do find this one rather enchanting. It’s certainly not $44 million worth of enchantment, mind you. $4,400 might be reasonable. The superfluous orders of magnitude of the actual price are paying for the name, not the art, which I think is foolish.

    1. Graystone says:

      I’d pay $40. Maybe $400; canvas and paints can be expensive. It’s still just a simple white line.

      1. Eric says:

        Well if it doesn’t enthrall you in any way (which is fine: art is entirely subjective and no one piece is going to appeal to everyone) then I don’t see why you’d bother to spend ANY money on it. :P

        While I mentioned that I think it’s silly to spend money just on an artist’s name, you also shouldn’t be buying art based on the cost of the materials. You should buy it for the emotions it evokes in you.

  9. Bbweis says:

    Ugh. Reminds me of two blue rectangles separated by a white line. Oh wait, it is. I’ve never seen anything so stupid; sorry, but I’m serious.

  10. TheHonestGuy says:

    What….? I could spend hours and hours painting something realistic and detailed and any local gallery would decline it, saying it’s not worth much, if anything, but this guys work… something interior designers do a far better job with a paint-roller day after day sold for that much?…. blimey…. modern “musicians” and “some” artists have their heads proper sewn on don’t they?….

    1. Nancy Hall says:

      A lot has to do with timing and the time to be a groundbreaking abstract expressionist is past, but then so is the time to be a classical painter. That ship sailed a long, long time ago. Barnett Newman and his contemporaries, most of whom have been dead for decades (Newman died 44 years ago), did work like nothing anyone had seen before. That’s why this painting is worth so much to the collector who bought it. I get that you don’t understand it, but that says more about you than it does about the artist. You should probably be embarrassed that you find a 61 year old painting to be outlandish. It makes you sound like a rube.

      1. Mel says:

        Oh I understand that the artist was breaking new ground, but lets be real…..it’s 2 blue rectangles with a white line down the middle. Not that clever.

      2. Gerry Noob says:

        Please forgive me, as this comment is based upon a google image search for Newman’s name… IMOFWIW, I would say he and his contemporaries did one work (maybe two works, if you’re reeeeeally feeling generous) “like nothing anyone had seen before”… they then proceeded to sell painting after painting that were essentially copies, but changing the colors and moving the lines – most are even vertical, single lines, somewhere near the middle.

        I’ll grant you that I have not seen – or as one poster above suggested would be more appropriate to call the activity, “experienced” – this thing in person, nor anything else that I consider to be so absurdly overrated without seeing it — er… experiencing — it in person. I may try some day to do this, but if after no more than 5 minutes of experiencing this painting (or whatever possibly equivalent piece I can actually see in a gallery or public display), if after 5 minutes, I don’t feel… anything… I’m going to turn around and take a public poll of anyone within earshot: “Let me see a show of hands, please… who thinks they have wasted their time here today?” if nobody raises his or her hand, I will then apologize for being a hick, and request that they do their best to forgive my intrusion into their lives that day, and walk away knowing that I have given the experience a chance, and anyone who says you have to experience it is merely spouting flotsom from their mouths or fingers…

        Any bets on what’s gonna go down?

  11. nosbig werdna says:

    This is sick. The “painting” is er what exactley, exept crap.
    44 million is beyond stupid, the buyer must be so far detached from reality that it hurts to think that the money could have been better spent on those who need it, The NHS, abused children, the homeless, rape victims, the list goes on.
    You the paiinter needs to get a grip on reality, since you now have $44 million in your account !

  12. Pokemono says:

    You need to be a great artist to sell a blue rectangle with a white stripe in the middle for $44 millions I’d like to be an artist like that.

  13. Brucey says:

    What really is a blast is that there are quite a few people on this list of comments who are taking this seriously!

  14. EJ says:

    There used to be a time where actual art was considered beautiful and actually contained some aesthetic content. And here we are today, selling big slabs of wall paint that look like a house painter’s practice boards for the cost of two or three business jets.

    This onset of so-called “modern art” is not even funny anymore. Persons void of any sign of reasonableness are becoming stupidly wealthy simply because they can explain the world’s most idiotic items with elevated, fancy words.

    Today, our culture reflects a central theme: underachievement. Even the current music world generally consists of songs that have superficial lyrics at best that bicker the same old I VI IV V chord progression. And yet, their artists are hailed by millions of accolades, usually by people who have absolutely no idea whether these songs have positively contributed to their lives. Most probably not.

    1. Andy says:

      You’re complaining about Art that was made over 60 years ago. If you want to critique contemporary painting, you should probably look at the work of someone who was alive within the past few decades.

  15. Tojo Melville says:

    I think it amazing….I have several similar which I have just churned out…er I mean painted. One is white with a single blue line…..and I even have one with two blue lines..therefore it is worth double. Offers over $80,000,000 considered.

    1. Nancy Hall says:

      You guys are really not getting this whole art auction thing, are you. It’s not rocket science. Barnett Newman has been dead for 44 years. He painted this 60 years ago. Some museum or collector sold this painting to another museum or collector.

  16. Kathleen says:

    On photos you can’t really understand why it’s so great, but in person in a gallery or museum it is really amazing. Also Newman doesn’t get a penny of this because the painting didn’t belong to him (or rather his estate) when it sold. Who ever owned it when it sold got the money, Newman got probably a couple thousand for it when it sold the first time (if I wasn’t donated to a patron or museum)

    The thing about this piece isn’t really what it is but what it represents, which is the move from strictly idealistic representational art to art that leaves to the viewer what to take away from it. Some people don’t take anything away from it, and that’s fine, some people who have had an opportunity to see it in person take away quite a bit. That is what art is all about.

    Just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean it isn’t art. It just means that you don’t get it.

    1. Loola Bayou says:

      No .. it means that you think this canvas painted with blue and a white line means something… it doesnt… its not art…its gimmick , its fraud, its laziness… its nothing…..

      1. Nancy Hall says:

        Actually, Loola, there are lots of people who find these enormous paintings compelling. They do think that what Newman did is art and they also understand that it wasn’t fraud, laziness or gimmickry; but rather a new form of painting that is still influencing artists today. People like Barnett Newman said, essentially, that a painting or sculpture didn’t have to look like another object in order to have meaning. That was a revolutionary concept and that’s why paintings like this one sell for millions of dollars. The reason somebody can’t do something like this today and expect to make millions is that it’s been done. This is already old and there are younger artists making new stuff that you would probably find as baffling as you find this.

  17. Tom Hendricks says:

    This is one reason why there is an art revolution going on called Postmod, or no-isms.

    Here’s why I think Modern art is neither modern nor art (or at least not very good art) anymore.
    1. Cold 2. Disjointed 3. Can’t communicate it’s message 4.Weird 5.Elitist 6. Technically poor if there is technique at all 7. Pompous and inflated, often takes up a room 8. Non functional, not useful, not integrated into life 9 No breadth or scope. From Five Doors to the Art Revolution, video #2.

    Modern art – dada without the charm.

    Part of the vitality in art is the rebellion against the mainstream. To bring vitality back to art, we should oppose the salon art , that modern art has become

    1. Nancy Hall says:

      How could we have Postmod without Mod? And isn’t Postmod an ism, and a hackneyed one at that? There’s always going to be something new, but that doesn’t mean that the old has no validity or vitality. It’s a foundation. It’s all a foundation, going back to cave paintings. I can’t say that I’m a huge Barnett Newman fan, but there are a few abstract expressionists whose work I like a lot including Pollack, DeKooning and Bacon. I don’t find them cold, disjointed, weird, elitist (?), technically poor (compared to what?), pompous because they’re big, not integrated into life (what does that even mean?), or lacking in breadth or scope. I left out the part about non-functionality because unless were’ talking about an especially beautiful spoon or chair, nearly all art lacks functionality. As for charm…that’s probably in the eye of the beholder. Dada was often amusing, but there are only so many times you can tell the same joke before it starts to get tedious.

  18. Ben Henshall says:

    I agree with the majority, and that is that no piece of art can be worth 44M of debt that somebody else owes. The purchaser is immoral.

  19. Andy says:

    What upsets me about articles like this one is that it gives a false sense of the Art Market. Most excellent painters, including excellent abstract painters, make little money on their art. Most of the big names of any generation teach in order to make their living.

    Newman’s paintings sold well in his lifetime but nothing anywhere near this price. He’s been dead for almost half-a-century, so the painting went for so much since he’s a major name in the history of Modern Art and his paintings are super-scarce.

    1. Gerry Noob says:

      With most art – and most artists, there is something to teach… there’s nothing to teach here or in any of Newman’s painting from what I’m aware – except possibly how to do nothing and get something for it. None of his paintings along these lines – pun acknowledged – past the first or second *should* have gotten ANY money… the only thing revolutionary is the concept – and after the first one, it’s no longer revolutionary, it’s unethical.

  20. Mirocq says:

    This painting is brilliant! As for all the comments, first of all this is not “modern” art, it is abstract expressionism. I am getting tired of that, modern art is period finished long time ago! This is work done by one brilliant man and it can be considered as starts of contemporary and minimal art which I am a big fan of, it represent start of new age in art through minimal form. Yes, there are people like me and I would love to have something like this for sure, although I am bigger fan of more new artists (like Miya Ando). As for the price, please… You still not get it that there are people who earn this per month? And what if I tell you that there are people who earn this much per week? For them this is not a high price to pay, after all it is Barnett Newman. Please keep judgments for political pages, some revolutions or pub, this is ART and for those who claim otherwise, every expression of creativity is ART, if you can do this then start doing it! Leave your computer and go paint! Create! And after all, art is always expression of an individual and it is experienced by the individual in their own way, as Barnett said himself “I hope that my painting has the impact of giving someone, as it did me, the feeling of his own totality, of his own separateness, of his own individuality”, and I am sure that only the buyer of this work knows how it feels. Thank you and sorry for my bad English, it is my third language. Adieu

    1. Anders says:

      Mirocq, you have never really understood what creativity is. It´s due to people like you that the “art-world” has become a dull, uninspiring and sad dimension feeding only from greed and money. Disgusting and rotten to the very core.

  21. clavedoc says:

    This discussion is fascinating!
    It’s amazing that many people’s criticisms revolve around the financial value accorded to a work of art, as if there is a useful correspondence between the two, It says a lot about society that we can only judge in moneterised form.
    I had a good chuckle about the person who thought this was extraordinary because they’d never even heard of Newman. I guess they were at least good enough to admit it…….
    The post about postmodernism has some validity. However, it’s not exactly new criticism, those are the points that were being made in the 1970’s. However, there perhaps is a bit of hint here in that postmodernism is called that because it came after modernism; ie it is reference against modernism. Newman’s work represents some of the highest points of modernism as articulated by Greenberg and Fried. Yes, it can be criticised on all sorts of grounds (as well as not actually liking it) but it changed the formulation of art so much that what came after was very much bench marked against it. It took it’s place by not being modernist. As such this 60 year old work stands at a critical place in the history of art, and this historical and cultural place no doubt adds to its saleable value considerably above any specific aesthetic considerations.
    Interestingly for those who deny its aesthetic value and purely for interest the point of such works were supposed to be for the pure and instantaneous aesthetic sense they gave as autonomous works without reference to other stuff such as the depicted subject or figurative illusions. You either get that or you don’t, and if you don’t then it’s not compulsory, but just a note of caution; seeing a reproduction on your computer will elicit nothing of the effect of seeing the work in the flesh; the picture is more nuanced than it appears, the paint has more variation/texture than it appears, and the scale and the way it fills your visual field is very different.

  22. felonius screwtape says:

    on the one hand, yes, 44M for a newman is crazy, but on the other hand, you’re all a bunch of complete philistines.

  23. Brennen says:

    I know someone that played a joke at a gallery. He crumpled up a piece of paper and set it on a table, set up a light pointing at the paper, casting a shadow on the wall, then he walked away. When he came back people were surrounding the “art” and admiring it. The name of my story is called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

  24. Randall says:

    This is without a doubt the dumbest story I’ve ever read. It’s like a Saturday Night Live sketch about how stupid the high art world is that someone would be so stupid to pay $44 million dollars for a piece of a blue wall anyone with a paintbrush and a can of blue paint could paint blindfolded and it would look exactly the same.

  25. Randall says:

    This is without a doubt the dumbest story I’ve ever read. It’s like a Saturday Night Live sketch about how stupid the high art world is that someone would be so stupid to pay $44 million dollars for a piece of a blue wall anyone with a paintbrush and a can of blue paint could paint blindfolded and it would look exactly the same.

  26. LeBob says:

    WOAW, I think I have a Newman too and didn’t even know about it!
    Except, we call it a table tennis- table, and not Onement VI.

    Oops, thanks now I know!

  27. Art says:

    Absolutely brilliant. The azure colors submerge you into a void of which its profundity grabs and tears at one’s soul, finding its parallel in the literal creation of the painting, was the white line painted over the azure background, or was the background painted in a inwards motion from the outer edges, until an imperfect, limitless yet finite white nothingness tear both the fabric of reality and of the canvas? I got you didn’t I.

  28. Lisette says:

    The comments are really sad. It is obvious that most do not understand the art and because they do not they react with comments that have no reflection. Rather they would praise an artist like Bob Ross or Kincaid because the imagery does not call upon intellectual thinking.

    This painting is amazing if you had the privilege to witness it in person. The color pulls you in, that blue has an effect on you ( there are really studies on color theories) and the white line is representative. It is jagged on purpose, with a bit more research, you would understand what it means.

    1. starseed says:

      Yes maybe it would but the point is you could do it yourself if you had the paint and canvas……it doesn’t require any special skill

    2. Autumnsheart666 says:

      Yeah. bulls***! This “art” is an insult to people like, Bob Ross, and Kincaid who labor to create beauty, that can speak to the hearts of viewers. This is… A solid color on a canvass, and you can talk about what it really means, but as I said before, would a musician be able to create noise, or one note on a cd and justify the label of “revolutionary thinking?” give me a friggin break! Coloring a canvass one color and calling it “art” and having some fool pay millions for it is an insult to the artists who have real skill and talent. Seriously, people like you “modern art snoots” who defend this contemporary garbage, are exactly the reason why people who create true works of beauty and sound can’t pay their bills. Seriously, take that opinionated bullox and shove it sideways!

  29. the art itself says:

    Dear Lisette :) give me pls 3 days for reflection and 1 day for providing 10 pcs of same kind of blue paints/white line, all for 1 % of the amount paid at this auction…

  30. American Infide says:

    Those people don’t know what they’re talking about! That painting is actually a WHITE LINE with BLUE FIELDS on either side. Whoever bought that has some serious brain damage!

  31. RG says:

    People say things can value what people pay for them…

    in this case we can say a smart ass tryed to sell this for millions, and idiot with millions paid

    the only lesson about this story is: there are too many idiots with too many millions…

  32. elmer p katz says:

    The National Gallery in Ottawa paid a controversial fortune for one of his works, Voice of Fire, but it paid for itself tenfold from the massive increase in attendance. People wanted to see for themselves what the fuss was all about.
    As to people who say ‘My kid could have done that’. Well, yeah, but he didn’t, did he?

    1. Eric says:

      Actually, yea, my kid did paint exactly that. Nobody has been stupid enough to pay him $44 million for it, but if the right government is willing to buy some of these works for their offices, it would prop up the price enough for it to be worth a fortune. No more common sense these days.

  33. Thomas s says:

    I’ve read some (not all) of the comments here) but I still want to throw in my two cents.

    I always think people don’t understand art like this because it always taken out of context from the artists whole body of work and this is why many pieces on their own do not work or mean anything to people. Art galleries often act as part of the industry of cultural diversion and do not explain or showcase work or artists well, for example. Many pieces like this are more important than they seem but it is hard to understand without being aware of the world of art. I do agree that this sort of money is absurd but that’s just where the prices in the world of art now.


    1. Gerry Noob says:

      OK… so did he do anything in the rest of his body of work except change line colors, widths, orientations, and locations? If not, can you explain how this blue-fields-with-single-vertical-centrally-located-thin-white-line makes sense in the context of his other blue-fields-with-single-vertical-centrally-located-thin-white-line painting several years prior or maybe his red-fields-with-single-vertical-centrally-located-thin-white-line painting? Perhaps his blue-fields-with-single-vertical-centrally-located-wide-light-blue-line? I nearly forgot the green-fields-with-horizontal-equidistant-thin-red-and-yellow-lines piece – that was epic… and far more indicative of his body of work than his red-and-blue-fields-with-single-vertical-centrally-located-thin-yellow-line. On the other hand, I’m honestly not sure from whence he pulled that red-fields-with-equidistant-vertical-black-and-white-lines piece – it doesn’t speak to me at all.

      …great… my hyphen key broke…

  34. rodliza says:

    this was created in the 60’s, which means it’s a historical artifact. In the 60’s America finally grew out of it’s shell post WW 2, and became one of the most powerful nations, which means we also lead and inspired culture on global scale. This thought of simplistic principles is actually HARD to come up, because culture is so limited by european classical art. This movement of abstraction and simplicity was our (american) way of saying “we’re powerful and we can create any kind of art we want”…

  35. Alex says:

    Most commenting overlook the historical context of the piece. It would have been considered rather daring in the art world at the time, a very modern notion. It obviously doesn’t age well to the casual viewer, as it seems quite commonplace to us now. But historical significance brings a high price, as does a bad case of the emperor’s new clothes, of course. ;)

  36. Gilbert says:

    I don’t Airbrushing some of my art is highly detailed whoever bought that for $44mill i have some stuff i will sell to you Half price ….LMAO i could use $22 mil ….god i could use just a few grand …lol
    anyways i don’t consider this kind of stuff art IT IS NOT ART!!! sorry but two blue panels with a white stripe it makes me laugh it’s such a joke
    i will gladly post my facebook page so you can see what i do i’m not claiming to be the best but i can get by i just don’t make $44mil selling my art :(

    come and buy my art it has pictures…lol

  37. kyankov says:

    I would say this is just another laundry for dirty money… Same thing goes for football and lottery…

  38. Anderson says:

    I wish someone would steal the money & give it to charity instead.

    & the people who bought this.. they should just kill themselves.

  39. Leo Rodrigues says:

    There are so many problems in the world and people spend money on such stupid things under the name of art. In reality, they have no idea about art and are fooled by such artists who knows how to convince people by giving some perspective. Art should come from heart, and if his heart has given him a vision of a blue rectangle with white line then he sucks, or he is so smart that he knows people will buy anything what he creates.

  40. Saige says:

    The painting, the high price, and the meaning behind it are all from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, this artist is a fraud and I truly hope someone of importance also realizes this so he can stop making millions off of a lie.

  41. Saige says:

    My bad nevermind, just realized he painted this before the book was published, he may have been the inspiration for the character.

  42. Parji Kalingga says:

    Critic says:
    “Newman overwhelms and seduces the viewer with the totality of its sensual, cascading washes of vibrant blue coexisting with Newman’s vertical “Sign” of the human presence, his iconic and revolutionary “zip.””

    I say, “F*** you critic!”

    There’s no sensual thing on it. There’s no human presence. It’s blue canvas with white line. That’s it.

  43. jimy says:

    I’m know very little about art but i hope the person who bought the painting could also donate or has donated $44 million to charity.

    I mean, he/she is obviously rich and is a patron of the arts. But come on, that painting is really crap. Put meaning into it, say that the artist who made it is well-known, underline it’s importance in history, but it really is just a very well painted ping-pong table. Everything else in everyday life is worth more than that piece of art.

  44. robinah says:

    Maybe the line was not meant to be straight,it might have meant something its very obvious that the uniqueness of this painting has made it popular so that means it was a worth the 44m.There is no perfection unless you are the creator because then you know what you wanted and made.

  45. Jim says:

    Based on what I remember from my HS Humanities class 30+ years ago, this is art. Based simply on the fact that it still generates this much discussion. Isnt that one of the most important criteria?

  46. Foobar says:

    I’m sure the buyer bought it only as an investment and that person is laughing at the idiots who think that it is “art”. The buyer will sell it to another investor and make a profit while the art aficionados continue to inflate its value. I have seen the same art just before I flush.

  47. Autumnsheart666 says:

    So, I could have my two year old paint something like this and make 43 million right? I’m sorry… I realize “art” is subjective and all, but this is absolute rubbish! Was the artist having a bad day or something? If this is “art” than this is no different than a musician making an album of fart noises, and hiccuping Giraffes and selling it to the tune of millions. Absolute nonsense!

    1. wawawlolol says:

      you call it rubbish and it sells 44m? do you think you can make one like that lol give me a break!! foolish artist this dayz

  48. LOL art says:

    you guyz are pathetic you always say i can do it / my son can do it / blah blah blah but here is the catch did you try to doing it and or making it to the auction shhesh the hell i/m really pissed i want to kill you all hahah it’s a serious joke guys….

    and yes i welcome grammar nazi

    thank you cursed you all

    bye then

    anyway nothing



    1. Mel says:

      but who would WANT to do that? I’m an artist and if I painted something like I would just be embarrassed. A block of color separated by a line…Jesus. Shoot me now.

  49. Principlex says:

    There’s something off in the pictures in this article. Notice how in the last picture the proportions of the painting is considerably wider than high. In the earlier pictures it is 8.5 x 10, barely wider than high. What gives?

    1. Gerry Noob says:

      I think you’ve got a misconception: that’s a different painting entirely! The first one with an almost verticallydominated aspect ratio is “Onement VI”, which was painted in 1953 and is the one that sold for $44 million. The horizontal one, which looks considerably more like a dark ping pong table hung on the wall, is “Cathedra”, which was painted two years earlier in 1951. I understand the mistake, though; he probably forgot that he’d already painted a blue field with a thin vertical white line, what with all his other thin/wide line(s) on solid color field paintings… it’s purely a fluke that the second one was for whatever reason valued higher to history than his first one… maybe the orientation fits the buyer’s space better? idunno

  50. Principlex says:

    Let me try that again. In the first pictures the painting is 8.5’w x 10″h. In the last it is wider than high. These are not the same painting although both have the same name. What gives?

  51. Mike says:

    Hmmm…what’s the technical art term I’m looking for here…? Oh yeah, it’s crap! Even from a tradesman painter point of view, the masking of the line is awful ;-)

    Pure, utter Snobbism. No wonder people mock the art world and all it’s pretension. The sad thing though, is all the good that money could have done elsewhere

  52. Lessa Manuel says:

    Guys, I’m glad art still pulls your minds till anger, even rage: it’s symptomatic of real importance of art in our daily lives. But, don’t be unfair: just think at the beautiful silence and mystery that Mark Rothko’s painting segregates… About the 44M$, I just think of Vincent, without a single franc of his own to buy colour oils and canvas, whose eyes “in china blue”* drives my to tears… *Don McLean

  53. IsraHELL PEOPLE says:

    This is how the “elite” psycho’s launder money…WAKE THE HELL UP PEOPLE, THINK, just stop and think! So many stupid people, and this is why psychotic who rule the world under satan, get awy with all they do…the people here that comment and haven’t a clue, not only about what this painting represents, but the FACt that the world they live is heavily influenced by satan! yes he is real, the bible is not the best fairly tale ever told although, there are those paying big bucks to convince you of that, and that you come from “aliens”, yes so they can trick you into being lead away from GOD, and it is working. so many GODLESS freaks today! The painting you see ws doen by a fake “jew”, the same falke jews who are destroying this world today, now does the painting make sense….israeHELL! That is why it sold for what it did…the same pigs who are staring the world, stealing from the people including their children, are making so much stupid money and not just off of their child trafficking, which is what IsraeHELL does best, but also this shows their supporters who have our stolen money to spend, stealing it from our taxes fo rthe corrupt and infltrated govn’t, infiltrated by who, israHELL and the rothschil’ds and rockefeller’s, Britain, the CRIMINAL queen, etc/., WAKE UP PEOPLE, too late is coming fast!

    1. lori says:

      what is wrong with you? it’s crazy talk like this that makes us Christians look bad. Leave our Jewish friends alone. See a pastor to get your faith and perspective sorted out. Good luck …….

  54. Earl says:

    Hell, I’d painted one for a lot less than $44M. I could probably come up with a dozen just like it by Friday and would gladly settle for $40M.

    How’d you like to be the dumbass that bought this? And then your wife finds out about it?

  55. Mike says:

    Give me a couple of hours and I could slap this together.

    If people want to throw their money away on this sort of art then as the saying goes … a fool and his money is easily parted.

    Even if others see it as an investment; its all perception which is as fickle as this blue triangle with a white stripe is.

  56. Laurette LaLiberte says:

    Do any of you who are lamenting about how no one really “understands” art, the artist’s intentions, and all of the other pretentiousness even realize that the entire abstract expressionist movement was a fraud, directly funded and paid for as a form of propaganda? That the galleries and critics who lauded this ‘art’ at the time were paid to do so, and that this entire scheme is well-documented and admitted to by true?

  57. firecat says:

    I can never understand why someone would pay even $1,000 for something that a five-year-old could make.

    You aren’t paying for the art, you’re paying for the name.

    Like buying an Apple product. Not much better than other products but can be 2x as expensive, just because of the name.

    I can understand paying for something if it cost a lot to make, gotta cover your costs. But unless he painted this canvas with $500 paint, 500 times over, It’s just a waste.

  58. Ian Cartwright says:

    I have been through art college in the early seventies where I painted figuratively and non-figuratively. After that, I spent a lifetime in photography, having kept up with life drawing regularly throughout that period. I say this because I do think being immersed in something does make you more qualified to have an informed opinion.
    I am not about to say, as many have here, that in my opinion, this painting, or this style of painting is crap. From the photograph we see, it doesn’t really do anything for me, but then I would probably say the same about many examples of Mark Rothco’s work had I not had the almost life-changing experience of visiting the Rothco Room at the Tate Gallery in 1971. I was overwhelmed by an irrational emotional effect, simply from being there, just me and these enormous daubs all around me.
    It is clear that works of art can only be judged subjectively, and if enough people with influence and disposable income like a piece, then it can be sold for large amounts of money, irrespective of any skill needed to produce it. Fashion comes into it and bullshit plays its part. Many adverse reactions are based on jealousy and resentment.
    I suspect the artist was sincere in his pursuit of his style, and may well have struggled all his life for recognition. Clearly, it is obscene that such things should exchange hands for so much money, but equally, it would be wrong for artistic endeavour to be without reward.

  59. jenny says:

    If i were a famous painter i would make a painting as pointless as that one; sell it for a ridiculous amount of money like that one did and laugh at the idiot who bought. Seriously a 5 year old could have painted that and no one would give a crap.

  60. jenny says:

    Dear god, hasn’t the buyer of that painting ever heard of a DIY. It would have saved him millions of dollars.

  61. vincent. Just call me Vince says:

    OMG. The person who bought it must be rolling in money but who can be so dumb to buy that piece of art? It just needs a bit of money compared to 44 million dollars and showing off?

  62. Bill says:

    If Newman would of used ScotchBlue painters tape with edge-lock I bet it would of fetched at least 60M!

  63. Jackie says:

    A lot of people feel the same way about my baseball cards: just a piece of cardboard, how could it be worth anything? But my dad’s collection of pieces of cardboard are worth thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s something he’s enjoyed doing over the years, and if and when he decides to sell, he is going to make BANK. So people can think baseball cards are stupid all they want … but my dad’s not stupid. He’s saavy and knows his market.

    I imagine the collector who purchased this piece of art is much the same way.

  64. Parts says:

    It reminds me so much of that other famous work…….oh wait, no that was a table tennis table. Or Ping Pong. And it was green. And the lines were straight.

  65. Mike says:

    …so we are just all going to sit here and take it. This gross negligence of wealth, the BS that these people need their tax cuts and their subsidies because they will use that money to “create jobs”, that they just worked harder than the rest of us, are smarter.

    I’m a very live and let live kind of person, but when I see stuff like this and it happens every day, at Sotheby’s and other top tier auction houses, “art” is being bought and sold with amounts most people won’t earn in a lifetime, that I will join Bill Burr as we take our pitchforks and torches to all these entitled, thieves in their gated communities and show them what happens when you rob us one too many times and throw your excess in our faces.

    1. Nancy Hall says:

      I agree with what you say, but this has nothing to do with the artist or the painting. He was part of a movement in art that attempted to reduce imagery to its essential elements. At the time, more than 60 years ago, work like this was revolutionary and it has value for that reason. It helped changed the way artists make art and it also changed the way the public experiences art. I also have to say that some of these massive canvases that look silly in photographs are breathtaking in real life….not sure about this one, but I’m just sayin’.

      However…whoever bought the painting is probably not thinking about its historical value or its aesthetic appeal. The individual or group is making an investment that he,she or it hopes will pay off in a future sale. Newman, himself, was poor for most of his life. He was a writer and social activist who didn’t start making art until he was almost forty and who didn’t achieve recognition until close to the end of his life. His sculpture probably has more mass appeal than his paintings. Given that he saw the openness in his work as a reference to the “end of state capitalism and totalitarianism,” he’d probably be horrified if he knew that his painting was being used as a vehicle for storing and transferring obscene amounts of money.

  66. LESTER says:

    It was painted in 1953 and it’s taken 61 years for someone to come along who is daft enough to pay $44Million for it. Fools.

  67. Anders says:

    This painting is one big repulsive disgrace. Completely talentless and “artists” like Newman and those who support this disgusting kind of so called human expression are the reason why this world in many ways have become a sad, dull and evil place.

    He (and all his kind) bring insignificance, emptyness and evil into this world.
    Shame on him.

  68. Natural Family says:

    If Mr Bean accidentally wrecked that painting, it would be easy to fix or forge.
    People making negative comments about people who can’t appreciate this painting and ones of its ilk don’t realize that it’s only real value lies in the amusement it provides the masses that there are actually people who are so deluded that they would seriously think that it was worth spending time and money on.

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