Grumbling begins over Picasso auction haul



According to an article that appeared in the New York Times yesterday, Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" broke a world record as the most expensive work of art ever sold at an auction.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
  • Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York, via Christie's
  • "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust"

The painting, which the article says "is considered a seminal work from a high point of Picasso's career," sold to an unidentified buyer for $106.5 million.

Today however, the Times' Holland Cotter published an unimpressed critique on the sale and the piece itself.

Cotter writes:

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.

A few months ago, Alberto Giacometti's "Walking Man I" bronze sculpture set the record at $104.3 million.

“Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” and other paintings from its period are old and easy, art as usual. They keep to the known, the pleasure zone; they keep old orders firm, artist over subject, man over woman, woman as thing, a pink blob with closed eyes.

Cotter's piece hints at the disappointment some art lovers feel in the piece. It's pretty, after all, but not a "Guernica" by any means. One reader commented: "If this exceptionally minor painting is worth $106.5 million, then what would a truly great painting, such as Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' go for? A trillion dollars?"

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