10 Simple Paintings You Can Make That'll Earn You Fortune

 10 Simple Paintings You Can Make That'll Earn You Fortune 

Have you ever  seen a painting in a gallery and wondered just what all the fuss was about?  Sure, there's such a thing as minimalism, but valuations for so-called masterpieces can be downright crazy.  Whether you're a pro painter or a novice,  you'll want to stick around to hear about 10 paintings that sold for fortunes and are so simple,  you could make them yourself.

10-Cy Twombly: Untitled (1968)

It may look like a child's  crayon drawing on a blackboard,  but this is actually one of  the most popular paintings of artist Cy Twombly.  What's more, it sold at auction in Sotheby's in 2015  for a record-breaking $70.5 million!  Yes, you heard that right, $70.5 million.  To attempt to understand this horrifically high price,  let's take a closer look at the man himself.  In his early career he was a cryptologist and this background has been used by critics to defend the supposed simplicity of his paintings,  such as Untitled.  According to Kirk Varnedoe,  the random doodling is actually  "the orchestration of a  previously uncodified set  "of personal 'rules' about where to act and where not,"  to the extent that Twombly  "illuminates a complex sense of human experience"  which is unseen in previous art.  Sotheby's, it would seem, agree with him:  Untitled is described on their website as the  "most mature from this ground-breaking series  "for its complexity and its monumental scale,"  a quote in which the word "complexity"  stands out resoundingly.  Still doesn't fully account for all those zeroes on the price tag in my opinion.  
9-Mark Rothko:  Orange, Red, Yellow 

In 2011, Mark Rothko's painting Orange, Red, Yellow set a new record for the highest price  ever received for contemporary art at auction.  It sold for a staggering $86.9 million at Christie's in New York.  Where Orange, Red, Yellow is concerned, you might well think that some price inflation has occurred here too.  However, according to art critics,  it may be the simplicity  of the color palette  chosen by Rothko that  has attracted buyers,  since "collectors historically  pay more for works  "that are red and gold,  as opposed to gray."  In fact, a New York Times article of 2012  called Orange, Red,  Yellow "the most powerful"  of all of Rothko's works.  Whilst his portfolio isn't that diverse,  I'll let you decide for yourselves.  Since then, his other pieces have attracted buyers with similarly deep pockets, including Untitled which sold for $66 million in 2014  and No.6 (Violet, Green, and Red) for $186 million.  And if you think the last of those paintings sounds like an extortionate sum, you'd be right:  the dealer who sold the artwork to its eventual buyer was investigated for misleading his customer about its true price.
8- Barnett  Newman: White Fire I

Another painting to grace  the halls of Christie's  is White Fire by Barnett Newman,  which sold for $3.8 million in 2002.  It's a part of a series of artworks which contain straight lines of different colors,  including his painting Black Fire,  which sold for $86 million in 2014.  Newman is credited as possibly  "the most influential artist  "in abstract expressionism."  Looking at White Fire,  there doesn't seem to be much going on,  but if you choose to believe the art critics,  there's much more to this painting than meets the eye.  Newman's paintings are "existential",  "with the intention of  communicating a sense  "of locality and presence."  The lines in his paintings are known as "zips",  which simultaneously unite and divide the composition.  Newman himself is quoted as saying that  "the painting should give a man a sense of place,"  and in this way he hoped that the public would be able to relate to him through his work.  Whether that works with so little content is debatable,  but it's interesting to note that Newman was mostly overlooked as an artist until the end of his life. 
7-Lucio Fontana:  Concetto spaziale, Attesa 

This painting by Lucio  Fontana sold for an impressive  $1.7 million at an auction in Munich in 2015.  It forms part of the spaziale collection  which, according to the auction website,  are "the artist's most sought after works  "on the international market."  If you looked at this painting and just thought someone had slashed a canvas with a razor blade, then you'd be right.  But according to critics, the  bold application of slashes  "explores the mysterious  depth of the seemingly  "infinite space, making it meditative."  In Fontana's own words, even,  his methods were not intended  "as a means of destruction of the image"  but instead as "a means to explore what lies beyond it".  In fact, one exhibition space  in which Fontana's works  were recently featured  described his razor slashes  as a "brief moment of creation,"  which created "the cosmos in microcosm"  and was "immortal" and "irrevocable".  This is very impressive when you consider that most of us,  artist or not, could easily buy a canvas and deface it with a blade.  The real question is, would we be able to sell it for over $1 million?  

6-Ellsworth  Kelly: Green and White

It may not look like  much -- yes, literally just a large uneven green circle on a blank canvas --  but this painting by Ellsworth Kelly sold for a cool $1.6 million at Christie's in 2008.  And this is from an artist whose works,  while revered, are known to generate rather subdued activity at auction houses.  This was because Kelly himself took a keen interest in the buyers of his art,  favoring loyal collectors who truly understood his work.  In his own words, Kelly  "worked to free shape  "from its ground and then to work the shape so that it has  "a definite relationship to the space around it"  which he believed symbolized freedom.  He was influenced by simple objects which he observed in everyday life,  but also by his work during the war in the special camouflage unit.  This is used as a defense to the supposed simplicity of his work, since he became adept at scrambling both visuals and ideas.  So maybe there's hidden genius inside those simple shapes?  I personally doubt it, and side more with the argument that this work, like others in the list,  is part of some money laundering scheme.  Using art as a money laundering vehicle is nothing new,  and it would be easy to hide illicit gains by buying these pieces with dirty money and then cleaning it by getting a loan from the bank against it or just selling off vast collections with auction houses.  It's almost impossible to substantiate,  but I'm struggling to find out why else you would pay millions for a poorly drawn green circle.  

5- Gerhard  Richter: Blood Red Mirror

Who knew that a plain block of color would generate so much interest and money?  Certainly not me, or I would have tried selling one years ago!  But perhaps it's because  I'm not German artist  Gerhard Richter, who sold this piece of artwork for $1.1 million at Sotheby's in 2009.  This seems like a fantastical sum for not much content,  but is there something I'm missing?  Well, for one thing the art is painted onto glass, rather than canvas,  because Richter is a photo painter.  Through the years,  Richter has experimented with different mediums with the intention of creating a non-art appearance,  including paintings over photographs and using colored mirrors.  Richter's aim was to explore the interplay  "between realism and abstraction",  as seen with the glass in Blood Red Mirror.  The mirror, while a tool for seeing things as they really are, is intended to show that the truth is not always as certain or objective as we may believe.  Not convinced?  Well, while the New York Times article at the time of the sale says the piece sold for  "a good price", there is  at least some mention of it  not being "an easy work to sell".  

4-Barnett Newman: Onement VI

This is another entry from artist Barnett Newman.  His piece Onement VI  sold for $43.8 million at Sotheby's in 2013, with the painting being described in The New York Post as  "a field of blue paint  "crossed by a ragged white line".  That ultra-creative explanation aside,  Newman's work does tend to generate huge sums of money from auction bidders.  But there may be a good explanation for that,  according to Jonathan  Jones, who wrote in 2013  that "Newman is a great artist"  and that work such as Onement is "a bargain at any price".  And why does Jones think this?  Well, that's where things get a little more complicated.  The vertical white line is a recurring motif in Newman's work, and according to Jones,  this symbolizes a "crack in space and time",  which both "speaks of creation"  and "draws you in at a psychic level".  Basically, it expresses the human yearning to find meaning in our world.  Personally, I think I'm still trying to find meaning in the artwork. 
3-Kasimir Malevich:  Suprematist Composition

In 2008, this piece by Russian artist Kasimir Malevich sold for $60 million at Sotheby's,  and this was during a recession!  Apparently, abstract art is just as popular now as it was when Malevich painted it in 1916,  and people still have more than enough money at their disposal to drop millions on a relatively unremarkable painting.  That's because, in 2018,  the painting sold again for a staggering $85.8 million, making it the most expensive work in the history of Russian art.  Malevich was known as a pioneer of geometric abstraction and this painting was intended to display a constellation of geometry and color in space.  In fact, it has been called the "visual manifesto"  of the entire Russian avant-garde movement.  According to critics, the painting shows  "shapes stripped of their symbolism"  and allows us to think in a broader sense  about the composition,  since there "is no hierarchy  "of importance between the aesthetic elements".  In this way, Malevich was creating new art for a new world.  Or, this could have been an expensive receipt for some type of shady transaction.  I'll let you decide. 
2-Jackson Pollock: No.5

Even if you're not a professional,  Jackson Pollock artwork is  easy to replicate, right?  In fact, MoMA even has  an informational video  which teaches you just that!  Unfortunately for us  laypeople, without the name  Jackson Pollock it is unlikely  to sell for $140 million,  which is the price that  No.5 sold for in 2006.  This shows just how much of a phenomenon  Pollock and his abstract expressionism has become since initial responses to the piece included onlookers  questioning why anyone would pay to own it.  It was at this time that Pollock  had begun to lay his  fiberboard on the floor  and drip paint on it from above,  a method which he believed  better allowed him to  "incorporate himself into the painting"  and to "express his feelings  rather than illustrate them".  So while it would be accurate to look at No.5  as an artist's cathartic passion project,  it is precisely because of the "strong emotion"  behind Pollock's work that art critics claim neither a toddler nor a house painter could fully emulate him.  However, it is widely agreed that most people still view the painting as a mess akin to a dense bird's nest.   

1-Robert Ryman: Bridge 

When a collection of Robert  Ryman's work was exhibited  at the Tate Gallery in 1993,  he protested that Bridge was not a blank canvas.  In fact, he said it's got a lot in it,  since its painted in white.  Buyers clearly agreed,  since the painting sold for a massive $20 million at Christie's in 2015.  Interesting, then, that the piece looks eerily similar to White Painting by Robert Rauschenberg;  a three-panel painting known as a triptych.  There are actually a  lot of white paintings,  from artists who formed part of the Minimalist movement and were working to counteract the expressionism of painters such as Pollock.  Besides, according to curator Elizabeth Sherman,  "White isn't a pure thing.  "It is always tinted in some way."  So there's actually a lot more depth to paintings such as  Bridge than meets the eye.  And if you agree with MoMA curator Leah Dickerman,  they are "radical statements"  in which the canvas "acts as a screen"  which can absorb the  "ambient effects of a room".  This sounds great, but wouldn't it be even more radical to paint something besides plain white?  Or, you know, not price it at $20 million? 
So, what did you think of the price tag for these works of art?  Do you think their price is justified,  or perhaps you may think it's all part of some money laundering scheme?  Let me know in the comments section down below.