On Tuesday, a painting by Pablo Picasso sold for $106.5 million at a
Christie's auction to an unidentified buyer. The painting, a 1932 oil
work called Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
is now the most expensive piece of art ever to be sold at auction. The
sale might give the lie to reports of an enervated art market, but
bloggers seem more interested in sneering at whichever moneyed patron
paid a hundred million dollars for an apparently unexceptional work.
- Not Actually a Groundbreaking Painting The New York Times' Holland Cotter
points out that while Picasso made plenty of vital, challenging
canvases, this one finds the artist working well within his comfort zone.
Picasso's paintings from this period "keep old orders firm, artist over
subject, man over woman, woman as thing, a pink blob with closed eyes,"
Colland writes. Not only that, but the historic sale itself isn't even
very earth-shaking: "These days, there's so much money in so many
hands, and so many of those hands are after trophy art, that
record-breaking has become routine, de rigueur."
- Just an Ego Boost for the Buyer, concurs Reuters's Felix Salmon.
"At these levels, buying art becomes trophy-hunting, a silly
competition to see who can spend the most money," he sniffs. "The main
reason for the price is not quality but size: the painting is a good 20
square feet, much larger than any of Picasso's cubist masterworks. The
painting is instantly recognizable as a big Picasso, and it will surely
make its buyer feel very rich and powerful every time he sees it. But
the price has nothing to do with quality."
- 'Worth More Than Some GDPs' At ShortFormBlog, Ernie Smith
is typically irreverent: "$106.5 million for Picasso's 'Nu au Plateau
de Sculpteur (Nude, Green Leaves and Bust),' which is the most any rich
jerk has ever paid for a painting in the history of ever."
Pornography! In a pre-auction write-up, and one of a relative handful
of stories to actually focus on the painting, the Los Angeles Times'
Christopher Knight sketches a deft analysis of the painting's erotic
symbolism, from its less-than-subtle anatomical signifiers to its
classical and biblical allusions. As Knight explains, Nude "is from the
artist's great Dirty Old Man period -- which is to say, most everything
he made after the age of about 19."
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