Invisible Art Sells for Millions – Day 60

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 60 of the 365 Days Project is by Lana Newstrom.]

Invisible Art by Lana Newstrom
“Untitled” by Lana Newstrom. Photo courtesy Lana Newstrom.

I’ve always thought the art world was a little mad. Certain conceptual art installations that sell for more than what most “traditional” artists earn in a lifetime seem to almost mock the intelligence of the viewer and perpetuate unfortunate stereotypes about artists and art. It’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes where no one dares to question what everyone knows to be true. We’re lulled into believing that it’s Art because the “right” people say it’s Art.

There’s an article that had been circulating the internet that brought this all up. The article introduces New York artist Lana Newstrom, who had been creating paintings and sculptural work and, like many of artists, finding it challenging to get her work in galleries and getting it sold. So she created an entire exhibition of “invisible art” with the premise of: “Just because you can’t see anything, doesn’t mean I didn’t put hours of work into creating a particular piece.” Oh, and collectors are lining up to buy it.

Before you read further, click the image below to check out the article. Be sure to listen to the artist’s interview which explains her creative process.

Lana Newstrom's exhibition
Screenshot of CBC Radio article from

Now I can tell you that it’s all a hoax. It’s a brilliant satirical sketch from the CBC radio show This is That with radio hosts Pat Kelly and Peter Oldrin, created by one of their writers, Kaitlin Fontana. Neither the art nor the artist are real.

The thing about this story is this: it could be true and that’s what makes me want to spit sometimes. It’s precisely why there is such a wall between art and the people it is supposed to serve. What really drives this home is that this article had been copied verbatim, photo image and all, on numerous internet sites as if it were true. Nobody bothered to check the validity – perhaps because it’s almost believable. (The photo alone is the tip-off – do these look like well-heeled collectors who would spend millions on ANY painting?)

Actually, even if it were true, I applaud the idea of getting adults to imagine things for themselves. I personally would love to attend an opening like this. What boggles my mind is the absurd amounts of money that changes hands on similar projects when there are exceptional artists around the world struggling to sell their work.

This doesn’t mean that all conceptual art is “bad.” It is meant to push boundaries – even the boundaries of the art market – and make people think. But in many cases, the value of certain works of “art” proves that the art world has lost its bearings. Perhaps it’s time to finally admit, “The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

Click to view The 365 Days Project

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