In New York, records broken at auction for Frida Kahlo and Pierre Soulages

Records beaten. Rare paintings by Mexican Frida Kahlo and French Pierre Soulages were sold Tuesday night for 34.9 million and $ 20.2 million to auction at Sotheby’s in New York.

As expected, the self-portrait of the legendary Mexican painter “Diego y yo” (“Diego and me”, 1949), one of those in which the face of her husband Diego Rivera appears on his forehead, shattered the old record. by Frida Kahlo ($ 8 million in 2016).

Sotheby’s announced that it had been acquired by the “Eduardo F. Costantini Collection”, named after the Argentinian entrepreneur and collector, founder of the Museum of Latin American Arts (Malba) in Buenos Aires.

“Diego y yo” also becomes the most expensive Latin American work of art in history sold at auction, the previous record belonging to a painting by … Diego Rivera, “Los Rivales” (1931), sold 9 , $ 76 million by Christie’s in 2018.

Oil on Masonite is emblematic of the self-portraits with an intense and enigmatic gaze that made the Mexican painter, icon of feminism, famous around the world, who died in 1954 at the age of 47.

But on this one, Diego Rivera’s face appears on Frida’s forehead, above her black eyes, from which a few tears seem to escape. Diego Rivera, who was at the time close to the Mexican actress Maria Felix, is represented with a third eye, a sign of the torments he causes to his wife.

$ 676 million

Pierre Soulages’ painting, which had spent more than 30 years in a private collection, corresponds to the red period of the century-old French artist, who became famous for his excellence in the mastery of black. Painted on August 4, 1961, its material effects were obtained using the scraping technique, which reveals the red tones under the black, explains Sotheby’s.

Estimated at between $ 8 million and $ 12 million, it sold for $ 20.2 million after a heated battle between several buyers in the auction room and on the phone. It greatly exceeds the previous record, reached in 2019 (9.6 million euros in Paris).

One of the other highlights of the evening was the sale of a painting by impressionist Claude Monet, Coin du bassin aux nymphéas (1918), for $ 50.8 million, far from its record of 110, however. $ 7 million in 2019, still in New York.

After several mixed seasons due to the pandemic, New York’s fall 2021 sales results look positive, with auction houses claiming to have found a sufficient supply to meet demand that has remained strong.

On Monday, Sotheby’s broke its all-time record for a single auction night, selling 35 works from the highly regarded Macklowe modern and contemporary art collection for $ 676 million.

For its part, Christie’s announced that it made $ 1.1 billion last week, against 691 million for these spring sales and 683 million for those of fall 2019, before the pandemic.


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