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.

Dereck Turner

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

  1. Vox says:

    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. Gustavo Guillen says:

    Boy that’s more minimalist than minimalism

  3. Savee Vangora says:

    Lol abstract/minimalist art….more like con-art😂….toddler scribbles all over canvas with a bunch of paint….
    Museum: yes yes..I see the deep inner thoughts of the artist, how the paint so gracefully depicts the modern age😍 1 million…SOLD!
    🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️….or I might as well just be an unimaginative person who just doesnt see through the invisible ink..quite literally🙄

  4. Louizzza says:

    Top comments here meant they lacked critical thinking and did not allow themselves to learn anything from this video.

  5. A rome says:

    Dear lady, what reward can i get by staring at a white painted canvas?

    The only time i stared at a white area is when i was punished.

  6. Antonio Luis Gomez says:

    artist : this is the type of white that brings youth and vigor
    Le'me : this makes me feel old

  7. belerophon xwz says:

    It's just pretentious like oh look at me I get why this white painting is considered art and you don't

  8. Leena Jose says:

    i dont get art

    this art

  9. pastelsketchie says:

    When the Austrian art school rejects you

  10. Zachary R. says:

    3:55 sounds like jacksepticeye

  11. Kayinyt says:

    you dont even have to paint

  12. babykole12 says:

    An abstract or minimalist painting will react to you if you react to it, You get from it what you bring to it. It will meet you halfway but no further. It represents something and so do you, you are a space too.

  13. how bow dat says:

    People who make this modern "art" are actually very smart people. They manage to convince others to buy their worthless trash for millions of dollars. This is the real ART of selling.

  14. FancyPants says:

    White painting: *exist
    All classical painters: Are we a joke to you

  15. Garrison Morton says:

    "That may sound obnoxious" BECAUSE IT IS.

  16. Garrison Morton says:

    All white sculptures and buildings are one thing. This on the other hand is nonsense.

  17. Mike Kazz says:

    I have an idea for an art insulation, it's me standing in the corner of the museum no paint, no canvas, just me getting paid to stand in the corner till the museum closes or till I get bored and call eating a sandwich performance art.

  18. Krispy Krep says:

    Bob Ross would've painted over that liquid hwite painting.

  19. Dan Renzulli says:

    Money laundering scam. These pointy headed art critics are a laugh.

  20. Abraham The Bad Badger says:

    A heard that in an alternate universe that those white paintings are actually black

  21. coco._. puffxx says:

    minimalism is laziness called a masterpiece

  22. Alexias Rei says:

    Okay so the lady explained about different shades of white and how Minimalism contradicts abstract expressionism but I still don't get it?? Why CAN'T that guy put his all-white painting in a museum? Like, does this mean I can spill a bucket of paint over a canvas and sell it for a for a ton of money? Because what I'm getting from this is that Minimalism pieces don't necessarily have any symbolism. Sooo that means I (or anyone) can draw a circle on a scrap of paper and sell it to a museum, right? Is that what Minimalism is or am I not understanding something?

  23. Amber MGL says:

    this is just a piece of white paper

  24. Louis Ziemmermann says:

    Most people in the comments don't know a thing about art, so shut up please!

  25. athenasatanjesus says:

    So to make it as an artist I don't need to be good at art, I just need to be a good lawyer for my art.

  26. Shoeperman Butthman says:

    Too much justification only proves white painting is either a lazy way to make money or a scam or maybe the artist is really just delusional

  27. [GER] lil'sushiroll says:

    If you want art, forget museums. Watch Bob Ross.

  28. Jahsiah Bowie says:

    Everyone has to remember art is objective. Just like how one person likes Snoop Dogg, another may like Bach more. It the same with art. One person may like Agnes Martin, another likes Monet. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN OPINION!!!!

  29. Paletteful Plumb says:

    I guess, you’re supposed to see the artistry of the canvas?
    I mean canvas can be very intricate sometimes.

  30. Fabtron 03 says:

    I think i do this as my art Project.

  31. Cabko2691 says:

    Im a minimalist too. I dont paint at all. Can i have my millions now?

  32. Marisa Castañeda says:

    Me: mom I want paintings
    Mom: we have paintings at home
    The paintings at home:

  33. Kendalyn Murdock says:

    Vox: Mona Lisa is overrated
    Also vox: This blank canvas is art

  34. rajeev tripathi says:

    No surprise ….. it's White…. hence the hype

  35. rajeev tripathi says:

    White… that's racist

  36. Justin Morales says:


    Japan: Am I a joke to you?

  37. Sasuke Uchiha says:

    How do they do it

  38. Losusix _ says:

    When your teacher assigned you to paint but focus you focus on the cleanliness grade but not the art itself

  39. Arturo Perez says:

    Oh I feel so burned. This whole time I was so ignorant to the process of how this shyt was made. I just dont have the education and open mind to understand these masterpieces. I'm so glad Elizabeth enlightend me. I'm able to control my "anger" now when I see someone pay millions for off white non sense 🤮🤣

  40. Arturo Perez says:

    Gotta justify them fancy degrees though 😎

  41. Lizzie Moo says:

    Y’all need to study some art history before getting all judgmental about art that was very groundbreaking and boundary pushing. Look up Derek Jarman’s blue. It’s a whole movie that is only a vibrant blue alongside narration. That was a very conscious decision. If 20 different people were given white paint, paint brushes, and canvases, each of their paintings would be different- different brushstrokes, different coverages, the possibility of different whites, different sizes in relation to the human body, etc. Each of these things and more contribute to the interpretation of the painting. White can also represent transcendence, purity, and more, which also contributes to meaning. They often relate to social commentary as well as painting language. It’s part of the idea of pushing art past more than just representational, perfect landscapes. Rejecting traditional art school rules decided by people who had enough money to fund artists who did work that only they liked. Artists were done with painting the body perfectly all the time and tired of having to paint religious mythology scenes to be considered art at all. It’s all a push back against that. 20th century art is fkn rad.

  42. Co-op Chefs says:

    such white much coke

  43. Miloud Bouchefra says:

    That woman has a PhD in bullshitting.

  44. chris martindale says:

    Yes it is "Obnoxious or flip". Frankly the white canvas doesn't make me angry etc..… it just makes me BORED. I have access to a lot of ways to make my self bored without paying 100,000$….. I am a minimalist photographer I could never get away with this.

  45. Dabber Mcgee says:

    The reason that this happened was actually a Cold War tactic by the CIA to fund “alternative” art. The Soviet Union relied very much on “traditional” art. This arguably the most successful thing the CIA ever did. Check The Escapists video on it cos I can’t really be bothered to write everything here

  46. Annie Center says:

    Buying one of these is like buying a multi-million dollar autograph.

  47. dh says:

    I think people just get angry when they hear how much it's been sold for. Placing monetary value on art "ruins" art

  48. Enrique Marquez says:

    f'd up

  49. Infinity Random says:

    3:04 ah yes, “art”

  50. nanoffyour besyness says:

    So real artists work and or are gifted and create beauty that is universally celebrated and appreciated.
    Modern "art" Gives a platform to privileged individuals who then used said platform to push "ideas" on the world and go pretending it as value because they had the idea, that no one was in a position to come up with in the first place,,, and would not choose to because of "our" common sense and natural penchant and appreciation for beauty born out of creative talent !

  51. Nova Cynthia Arts says:


  52. asifbih says:

    ultimately what they're telling you when they're calling something basic “art” or “groundbreaking” over something detailed and aesthetically stunning is “i care about what sells”

  53. EngelSpiel says:

    The fact that this art exists, and with the value that it has, makes me so frustrated with the world (and the human condition) that I feel that the next time I see something like that in a museum, I'm going to rip it off the wall and stomp on it, maybe even throw it off the nearest balcony or into the road to be run over. And you can't stop me. This is why most of humanity shouldn't have a future.

  54. knightpeanut says:

    Why haven't I done that

  55. Robert Ha says:

    Modern art is just a money laundering scheme for the uber rich and black market elite to funnel their cash into nonsense that retains its value.

  56. PH4T JOKER says:

    Im sorry but if i see a white painting at a museum then im gonna spit on it cause this is just a lack of ideas a sign of weakness a person who cant give the paint they have a reason to be . a lack of humanity and common sense and too many yes men are around that person . I also see an inflated ego .

  57. Ahiba Sabala says:

    'Yes you could do it, but you didn't' ———– I'm sure many people did do it, they just didn't have the connections to get influential people to look at what they did. While uninspired or easily replicable art needs institutions to push it into the public sphere, talented art inevitably comes to the fore of public consciousness of its own accord.

  58. Smokey Robinson says:

    Minimalism makes for great wall accents when it comes to home decor. When it comes to art, not so much. Shame how much it's passionless, idealess suckery has penetrated the modern art world. It's like a competition for who can be the least inspired and most sterile.

  59. Slice Of inBread says:


    More like


  60. xwarx1000 says:

    contemporary artists + Faminists = they borh do not believe in objective reality. Thats why they should n't be allowed to vote.:)))

  61. CodxDPro1013 says:

    0:48 “When i say minimalists I mean minimalists with a capital M, not a lowercase”

    BRUH the Captions said it with a lower case.

  62. liam hiley says:

    These artworks are probably low effort cash grab schemes. The artists thought "Hey! What if I make an artwork that has nothing on it and try pass it off as modern art! Free money!".

  63. Sam Cavanagh says:

    I love modern art. It makes people so mad

  64. Breygas Andara says:

    The super minimalist extra pure ultimate artistic white background behind her must be at least worth of couple billions usd.

  65. Inderveer Singh says:

    So minimalism is just a fancy word to describe laziness!

  66. Michelle Bosch says:

    I love how most poeple in the comments don't even take the time to go study the subject but have massive ignorant opinions about it. Such a shame.

  67. isaac villanueva restrepo says:

    solo porque la gente sienta sobre cualquier cosa no significa que sea arte

  68. Sam Jensen says:

    If there is no skill why should some art be worth more?

  69. The Angkor Watt says:

    They took us down to see an art exhibit from Art history class in college. All the modern paintings were such trash. I’m sorry but Art is sublime and beautiful or at least intriguing. When the title of a painting doesn’t make you understand what your looking at any better than it’s not Art.

  70. Jack Burton says:

    it's like dadaism that takes itself to seriously

  71. Mr S S Luthuli says:

    Why am I annoyed all of a sudden?

  72. Марк Пиво says:

    This is not art!

  73. Sentisuba Aier says:


  74. Leyton Clarke says:

    Two words – Money Laundering

  75. oh no says:

    a singer releasing an r&b song and a singer releasing a rock song shouldn't be compared because of every individual's preference for music

    but a singer releasing a 4 minute track of no sound and asking his audience to "imagine a song" ain't it chief

  76. Marcus Lau says:

    3:34 laughs in Japanese

  77. Undestructable_cocx says:

    Remember kids, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you’re impressive

  78. theCuttlekid says:

    soo like did no one in the comments even watch the video?? lol

  79. Sàlkín Aùréùs says:

    To me, art is whatever I can't do. Period !

  80. Ethan Brooks says:

    clam up clowny

  81. Gabster Gabby says:

    It’s obviously camouflage

  82. Merel Blackbird says:

    Vox i love you but i’m too closed minded for white squares

  83. Will Smithsucks says:

    Vox is pretentious nonsense.

  84. Jorge Sanchez says:

    Basically art is everywhere but not in things that are commercialized like coke cola?

  85. Jorge Sanchez says:

    Is it art or are people running out ways to express themselves in a unique way that separates them from the rest.

  86. Xx_CheetohFingers_xX says:


  87. emily bingel says:

    im not mad just very confused

  88. Ja Ra says:

    This video is as useless as the paintings in it.

  89. Mr Oof says:

    ⬜<== my art


    Comic books have more emotion and skill than the entire minimalist movement.

  91. Autumn Munden says:

    So. Some of us stare at the white canvas and we feel anger. Some of us feel irritation. Some of us think about our dog instead. Some of us don't care.

    Hmm… maybe the blank canvas thing is reflecting to us more about our current state than we realize?


  92. Aden Maulana says:

    This is just the biggest bs bomb I've heard since ever

  93. David Labaš says:

    “Yes you could do it, but you didn’t”
    Um yes I did… in kindergarden…

  94. • c h e r r y • says:

    Even now, I still don't get it. It's literally just a white canvas sold for a VERY unreasonable price.

  95. Gabrielle Holt says:

    I call bs on the price of a plain white painting but I CAN see a possible interpretation: artists (whether literary or visual) have some innate fear of the "blank page" or "blank canvas". Sometimes you really can't think of what to make and that can lead to anxiety, imposter syndrome, and just good ol frustration. So maybe the artist was feeling cheeky and thought "ya know what this white canvas needs? More whiteness" so that they could say they painted something even if it looks like nothing. Because it is still technically a painting. It just happens to be incredibly boring.

  96. Kyle Mitton says:

    "What do you feel looking at this white painting?"
    I feel like I need to repeatedly beat my head into a wall until my brain is damaged enough to appreciate this BS

  97. Jason says:

    they are often used by rich people to launder money

  98. Larenz De Chavez says:

    Jackson Pollock be like:
    "I got rich by using 2 colors"

  99. Lazy Potato says:

    The title is like me trying to do Tik Tok

  100. Galib Jaman says:

    I didn't realize that I was living in a house surrounded by masterpieces.

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