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Derided, hated, vandalised, lauded, ruined, imitated. The insane history of Barnett Newman’s painting Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III, which was sliced with a knife by a vandal in 1986, but its controversial restauration left scars that are at least as deep.
This cinematographic essay sheds light on the turbulent history of the painting Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III (1966-67) by Barnett Newman. From its purchase by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam until today, the large abstract canvas has been marred by tumult. An art work has rarely raised so many questions or elicited so many emotions. The serious vandalistic attack on the painting by a visitor in 1986 was followed by a controversial restauration and lawsuit. And the key question remains: Are we looking at the original or a copy?