Pierre Soulages and Frida Kahlo at the top of the auction

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Absolute record for Pierre Soulages, whose painting “Painting 195 x 130 cm, August 4, 1961” exceeded $ 20 million yesterday at Sotheby’s in New York. The painter from Rodez confirms his first place as a French painter living in an increasingly stratospheric art market.

Double his estimate! This is what was done yesterday at Sotheby’s in New York the painting by Pierre Soulages, “Painting 195 x 130 cm, August 4, 1961”, which sold for 20.2 million dollars (17.88 million dollars). ‘euros), during a sale which also panicked the counters with a self-portrait of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, “Diego y yo” (“Diego et moi”, 1949), won at 34 million dollars (30 million d ‘euros).

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 and his practice of “L’outrenoir” from 1979 But the painting sold in New York corresponds to its most sought-after period for years, it displays material effects obtained thanks to the scraping technique, which reveals the red tints under the black. she participated in one of the most important retrospectives dedicated to Soulages in the 1960s (Houston, Paris and Montreal).

“This work from the years 57-63 is undoubtedly one of his most exceptional paintings”, specified the auction house which has not been denied, far from it … Estimated between 8 and 12 million euros dollars, it sold for $ 20.2 million after a heated battle between several buyers in the auction room and on the phone. The identity of the purchaser has not yet been disclosed. “Painting 195 x 130 cm, August 4, 1961” doubles the previous record, reached in 2019 (9.6 million euros in Paris) with a work from the same period as that sold yesterday.

Taken over the phone

The works of the painter from Rodez who lives in Sète, and will celebrate his 102nd birthday on December 24, are customary best sellers, confirming him the place of the most expensive living French painter. Last May, it was in Montpellier that a sale had focused the attention of specialists, amateurs and ten potential customers. “Painting 100 x 81 cm, April 16, 1975” had been sold for 1.3 million, won by a Belgian collector.

The most spectacular purchase made yesterday at Sotheby’s is a painting by Frida Kahlo, legendary legendary Mexican painter who died at the age of 47 in 1954. Famous for her portraits, it is one of those in which the face of her husband Diego Rivera appears. on his forehead, which smashed his old record ($ 8 million in 2016) to reach $ 34 million. This oil on masonite was 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 at auction, the previous record belonging to a painting by … Diego Rivera, “Los Rivales” (1931), sold 9 , $ 76 million by Christie’s in 2018.

A billion for Christie’s, a stratospheric market

One of the other highlights of the evening was the sale of a painting by the 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 because of the pandemic, the results of the fall 2021 sales in New York are looking positive, the auction houses claiming to have found a supply sufficient to meet demand which 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.

In Rodez, the Pierre Soulages museum, which the painter and his wife Colette have richly endowed since 2014, should benefit from a new resurgence of interest when the results of yesterday’s sale are announced … In addition to the drawings, paintings , sculpture and stained glass by the master, visitors will discover a new temporary exhibition dedicated to … Gaston Chaissac and the CoBrA group. Regularly showing other artists was a requirement of Pierre Soulages prior to the creation of the museum that bears his name. One of Pierre Soulages’ last public outings dates from the exhibition that the Louvre dedicated to him in December 2020, a few days before his hundredth birthday.