White paintings sell and they sell well. Toward the end of 2014, Bloomberg reported, ¨A canvas by Robert Ryman fetched $15 million at auction this week, creating a milestone in the history of white-on-white painting.¨ Are white paintings really worth this much?
We approach how we understand these paintings incorrectly. We attempt to reduce them to ¨white paintings¨ when in reality, they aren´t that simple. All these paintings aren´t the same. They can vary in texture and pattern – and they can differ in colour too. Yes, there are more than one kind of ´white´. From blue-white to red-white to green-white, there is a spectrum. But many people who undervalue the painting view them as simple artworks that ¨anyone can do¨.
White Paintings: Making Meaning
Not everyone sees them that way – and that´s what makes these paintings special. Blank canvasses force viewers to create the expression themselves. We choose to feel relief and clam or anger and frustration when we come across one. The message it conveys depends on the viewer and not on the painting. Rather than controlling how we understand the art, it allows us the reigns over its meaning.
The power of these paintings does not arise from noticeable pop culture reference or abstract interpretations of the familiar, it comes from creating. The best way to approach a white painting is to allow yourself to create expression on the canvass.
Why the price?
A question we can still ask is if this is enough for the price tag. Professional Art, in general is costly. This has more to do with the market than with the art itself. The supply of magnificent art is low and the demand is great, so the outcome is a massive cost. This is similar to why beach houses cost much more than similar inland houses. But, not all paintings are $15 million dollars. In fact, the price of art can be relatively inexpensive in local communities. White paintings are no exception.
So, get one for yourself and get to creating.
Design-related blog posts every Friday.