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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Picasso's 'women of Algiers' sell a record $179m (Rs.1149 crores approx)

There are people who constantly crib that they do not have enough money – there are some who spend lavishly, as if there is no tomorrow ! – women shop endlessly.  There is demand for many many products !  - some would buy only goods that have a value – again there is intrinsic value; some buy for needs ... but not everything is priced on ‘demand and supply’ nor on acute need.  For centuries, paintings command premium prices – there are host of aspects that determine the price and ‘demand and supply’ is  also the one  !..... it is the Artist,  the topic, the period, the quality, the material that went in making it,  style and more.

Today, there are reports that a  painting by Pablo Picasso has set a new world record for the most expensive artwork to be sold at auction after reaching $179m (Rs.1149 crores approx) in New York. The painting had been on a pre-sale world tour in Hong Kong, London and New York.

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso ( 1881 – 1973 ) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France.   One of the  most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture,  the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles.  Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a naturalistic manner through his childhood and adolescence.   Picasso achieved universal renown and immense fortune for his revolutionary artistic accomplishments, and became one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art.

‘Women of Algiers in their Apartment’ is an 1834 oil on canvas painting by Eugène Delacroix.   King Louis Philippe bought it and presented it to the Musée du Luxembourg, which at that time was a museum for contemporary art.  It depicts Algerian concubines of a harem with a hookah,  that  served as a source of inspiration to the later impressionists,  and a series of 15 paintings and numerous drawings by Pablo Picasso in 1954.  Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist. 

Between 1954 and 1963 Picasso produced several series of variotions on Old Master paintings ~ the first of these series,  examined Eugene Delacroix's  Women of Algiers.  Picasso had first made a sketch version of the work as early as 1940 and throughout the decade regularly visited the Louvre specifically to look at Delacroix's canvas.   It is the picture - Picasso's Women of Algiers that has smashed auction record. 

Picasso's Women of Algiers has become the most expensive painting to sell at auction, going for $160m (£102.6m) at Christie's in New York. Eleven minutes of prolonged bidding from telephone buyers preceded the final sale - for much more than its pre-sale estimate of $140m. The final price of $179.3m (£115m) includes commission of just over 12%.  The sale also featured Alberto Giacometti's life-size sculpture Pointing Man, which set its own record.  It is now the most expensive sculpture sold at auction, after going for $141.3m (£90.6m). Both buyers chose to remain anonymous.

The previous world record for a painting sold at auction was $142.4m, for British painter Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud in 2013.  The Picasso oil painting is a vibrant, cubist depiction of nude courtesans, and is part of a 15-work series the Spanish artist created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A to O. "This is an absolutely blockbuster picture - it's one of the most exciting pictures that we've seen on the market for 10 years," said Philip Hoffman, founder and CEO of the Fine Art Fund Group. "For anybody that wants to have a major Picasso, this is it - and $179m in 10 years' time will probably look inexpensive," said Hoffman.

Picasso started the Women of Algiers series in 1954 shortly after the death of his friend and competitor, Henri Matisse, the master of what he called the Odalisque - exotic paintings of Turkish women in harems.  Now in his 70s, Picasso felt he should pick up the Orientalist mantel from Matisse while also looking to bring together many of the influences that informed his own art.  There was his lifelong admiration for the French romantic painter Eugene Delacroix who painted the original Women of Algiers (1834), and - of course - his adoration of the female form. Added to this rich mix was the geo-politics of the time, which saw an uprising in the French colony of Algeria that would eventually lead to the country's independence.

In Women of Algiers version O, Picasso has distilled all of these ingredients into one large-scale painting of great quality: a study not only of the Arabesque, but also a serious enquiry into the nature of colour, line and composition.  Experts believe the investment value of art is behind the high prices.   There is huge demand for artworks – there are billionaires  in New York, the world's museum buyers are there. And according to experts, there has not been a sale as important as this in Christie's and Sotheby's  in recent decades !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th May 2015.

Photo and news source : bbc.co.uk.

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