The End of Fear

Film, 70’

Directed by Barbara Visser, research and script Barbara Visser & Bart Haensel

It is known as one of the worst crimes in contemporary art history: the murder of Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue. Or really, the double murder. In 1986, a confused man entered Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum and used a utility knife to slash the huge abstract canvas by Barnett Newman to ribbons. The American conservator Daniel Goldreyer was hired to restore the painting, but when it returned to the gallery, nothing was left of its original radiance. Goldreyer had plastered the canvas with DiY paint and a roller, finally and irrevocably destroying the work of art.

More than twenty-five years later, Barbara Visser investigates the entire history. The artist, the museum director, the critic, the art historian, the culprit – they are all heard. Not in order to point the finger, but to determine the moment of death. Because when does a work of art – an object or an idea – cease to exist?

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