I love this foyer. The simple but striking red and blue striped runner creates a strong presence amidst the white backdrop. Bold but elemental in design; a real show-stopper.
Right? Wouldn’t you agree? Actually it’s not a foyer and it’s not a runner but rather the powerful vertical painting, Voice of Fire, acrylic on canvas, 1967, by Barnet Newman hanging in the National Gallery of Canada. I visited the National Gallery this past weekend and had a chance to sit in Gallery C214, where this 8 ft. x 18 ft. painting hangs. The walls in this gallery soar to almost 40 feet high toward a room-length skylight and when the National Gallery was built in 1988 it was decided that an “assertive anchor” was needed for this space.
Assertive indeed! When the painting first appeared in the National Gallery it created huge controversy. “How could 3 simple stripes cost $1.8 million?”
And many asked, “Is this really art?”
After viewing this painting I headed towards the area of International Art where the Old Masters paintings hang. I came across this painting by Nicolas Poussin, The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus, 1628–1629.
This oil on canvas painting with its ‘forceful diagonals, rich colours and strong light effects’ definitely has history as it is almost 400 years old but I ask you, “does disembowelment make for art!!??” (Yes I’m talking about the ripping out of a person’s intestines. Yikes!)
Voice of Fire may be controversial but isn’t The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus offensive?
So I ask you “what is the definition of art”…..????
It’s all about interpretation I suppose.
And oh by the way Voice of Fire is now valued at more than $40 million!
All images by MODMISSY