Artist Bob Law’s Nothing To Be Afraid Of V 22.8.69 may look like a blank canvas with black pen round the sides, but the 1969 work is expected to fetch up to £60,000 when it is auctioned by Bonhams next month.
Law ‘had applied the seductive idea of nothing to a canvas, and asks the viewer to reflect,’ according to the auctioneer’s catalogue.
The Turner Prize-winning artist, who died in 2004 aged 70, aroused strong opinions in the art world.
Fellow artist David Hockney said he could not understand ‘four lines of ballpoint pen round the edge of a canvas’. He added: ‘It seems to me that if you make pictures there should be something there on the canvas.’
But Bonhams’ head of contemporary art, Tony McNerney, said: ‘Bob Law is the most underestimated and overlooked minimal artist in Britain and this is the first major canvas of his to come up for auction.
‘He was doing what others were doing in America, but he didn’t get the recognition that he deserved.’ The work echoes the long-running French play Art. In the play, which enjoyed a long run in the West End, two friends are divided when one of them buys a work that is a blank canvas.
One character, Serge, is proud of his 200,000 franc acquisition but his friend Marc describes it as ‘a piece of white s**t’.
The auction takes place in London on October 13.