Art opens with Marc telling the audience that his friend Serge has purchased a painting. Marc describes the painting as a five-foot-by-four-foot white canvas with fine white diagonal lines painted across the white background.
In Serge’s apartment, Marc and Serge look at and discuss Serge’s new painting. Serge tells Marc that the painting is by an artist by the name of Antrios and that he paid 200,000 francs (approximately $40,000) for it. Marc laughs at the painting and says it is worthless. Serge asserts that Marc knows nothing about modern art, that he does not understand it, and that he therefore is not in a position to judge the painting.
Alone, Marc addresses the audience, asserting that it is a mystery to him why Serge bought such a painting. He admits that Serge’s buying of the painting has filled him with ‘‘some indefinable unease.’’
Alone, Yvan explains to the audience that he has just started a new job as a sales agent for a wholesale stationery business and that he is getting married in two weeks.
Marc visits Yvan at his apartment, where a painting of a motel hangs on the wall. Marc tells Yvan about the white painting Serge just bought. Yvan suggests that if it makes Serge happy and he could afford to pay for it, the quality or price of the painting is not important. Marc tells Yvan that he is hurt and disturbed that Serge bought the painting.
Yvan visits Serge at his apartment, and they discuss the Antrios painting. Yvan is more openminded about discussing the qualities of the painting itself than Marc was. When Serge tells Yvan how much he paid for the painting, they both share a hearty laugh. Serge tells Yvan that he resents Marc’s response to the painting because of his tactlessness, insensitivity, and tone of smugness in expressing his opinion about it.
Yvan visits Marc at his apartment, where a landscape painting hangs on the wall. Yvan tells Marc that he saw Serge’s new painting and that he did not like it, nor did he hate it. Marc asks Yvan if Serge’s painting makes him happy.
Alone, Yvan states that the painting does not make him happy but that he is not the kind of person who can really say he is happy about anything.
Alone, Serge asserts that, as far as he is concerned, objectively speaking, the painting is not white, that it has a white background, but that it includes other subtle colors as well.
Alone, Marc states that he should avoid attacking Serge about the painting he bought. Marc vows to be nicer to his friend and to be on his best behavior from now on.
Marc and Serge wait at Serge’s apartment for Yvan to arrive, as the three of them have plans to go out to a movie together. While they are waiting, Marc and Serge discuss the white Antrios painting. Serge brings the painting in from another room, and the two men contemplate it.
As if alone, Serge suggests that his buying of the painting has caused discord between himself and Marc because Marc does not approve of the painting.
As if alone, Marc states that the discord between himself and Serge started before the purchase of the painting, when Serge used the word ‘‘deconstruction’’ in a discussion of a work of art. Marc observes that it was not the word itself but the tone with which Serge said it that bothered him.
Still at Serge’s apartment, Marc and Serge are continuing their conversation about the painting when Yvan walks in. Yvan gives a long explanation of why he is so late, because he has been dealing with a conflict between his mother and his fiancée over their wedding plans. The three men begin bickering. Serge then tells Yvan that he thinks his fiancée, Catherine, is an obnoxious person and that Yvan is in for ‘‘a hideous future’’ if he marries her. Yvan admits that Catherine has problems but states that he cannot back out of the wedding now that it has been planned.
The men begin again arguing over whether or not the painting is white. As they continue to...
(The entire section is 1,298 words.)