Lori and I lived in Ottawa, Ontario for 11 years before moving here. If you’ve never been to Ottawa, I would encourage you to go sometime especially to experience Canada Day there. It’s a beautiful city with lots to do. One of the things is visit the many museums or special venues in our nation’s capital. One was the National Art Gallery. Admission was free and we often went there when visitors from out of town came to stay with us. So I got to know the gallery a bit. And they have this one section called Modern Art or something like that. Now I don’t mind abstract art or unorthodox art. But there’s one criterion this art has to meet for me to consider it as art. I should not be able to reproduce the artwork. I’m not a paint artist. If I could do that, then it’s certainly not worth being in the National Gallery.
Well, in one room of the Gallery they have this piece called the voice of fire. It was painted in 1967 for the US pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. The canvas appeared in the massive dome of that pavilion. Barrett Newman painted it and is said to have been celebrated for his bold paintings. He conceived this design that would stand out in the vast, sunlit, crowded space under the dome. Now this part is from a website dedicated to Barrett Newman’s work. “Limiting his colors to red and blue he created this powerful vertical canvas to be suspended from the dome’s ceiling. While it appears simple in form, Voice of Fire conveys a range of meanings. Newman intended the work to be studied from a short distance; its enormous scale transforms the space and tests our sensory experience.”
The National Gallery purchased the painting in 1990. The country was sliding into recession and not in a good mood. The Gallery purchased the piece for 1.8 million dollars then which would be almost 3 million dollars today.