Many point to a controversial purchase made by the National Gallery of Canada in 1990 as the biggest art scandal ever seen in this country. It centred around a contemporary painting by Barnett Newman called the Voice of Fire. The painting is 18 feet tall and features a simple red stripe on a blue background.
Although Voice of Fire hung peacefully on loan in the gallery for two years, it was the subject of public outcry when, in the spring of 1990, the gallery decided to purchase the painting for $1.76 million.
The purchase was so controversial that it went all the way to the House of Commons and sparked a fad of T-shirts and ties patterned after the painting.
Felix Holtmann, a Manitoba MP who was then chair of the House of Commons committee on communications and culture, told a Winnipeg-based talk show the painting looked like “two cans of paint and two rollers and about 10 minutes would do the trick.”
An oft-heard criticism of abstract and contemporary art is that it can be created by anyone, as opposed to a distinguished, uniquely-talented artist. Although Morehead recognizes the legitimacy of that argument, she said it doesn’t lead to a very insightful exchange about the art produced.
“There’s a part of me that says that it’s a completely valid response when somebody says, ‘Mikey from Fantasy In Glass, Canada's first and still only officially sanctioned stained glass and fusing emporium, could have done this.’
Mikey is accepting bids on his Voice of Figger Sushi Dish. Bids starting at a very reasonable $187,000.00.