• gerard van weyenbergh

Five most expensive artworks sold in 2020

1. A triptych signed Francis Bacon: 84.6 million dollars

The pictorial triptych was to Francis Bacon what serigraphy was to Andy Warhol. From the 1940s on, the British artist continued to represent the deformed figures and half-human, half-monster creatures that populated his imagination on three canvases of the same size, thus composing scenes that transcend the boundaries of the single painting. In 2013, his 1969 work Three Studies by Lucian Freud even sold for $ 142.4 million at a sale at Christie's in New York, becoming the world's twelfth most expensive artwork. This year, the triptych inspired by the Oresty of Aeschylusfrom 1981 broke a new record. Belonging to the Norwegian Hans Rasmus Astrup collection, the work was sold online by Sotheby's last May to an anonymous person and reached 84.6 million dollars - or 75 million euros.

2. A 17th-century Chinese scroll: approximately $ 76.6 million

We knew little about Lingbi County outside of China, but their stones are undoubtedly more so. Coveted for centuries for their organic shapes filled with cavities and convolutions, giving them a fascinating singularity, they have long populated the homes and gardens of scholars and other academics while inspiring many artists. The painter Wu Bin, known for his numerous landscapes on paper, decided in 1610 to represent a Lingbi stone from ten different views. The artist presents an almost abstract view by detailing its reliefs with black ink washes on a paper roll, between curls of smoke, waves breaking on the shore, and foliage of lush vegetation. 31 years after being the first Chinese painting to exceed $ 1 million at auction,

3. A female nude by Roy Lichtenstein: $ 46.2 million

It's hard to talk about pop art without mentioning Roy Lichtenstein, whose painted and silkscreened canvases have been the favorite of auction houses for several decades. If the New York artist's work became representative of the American aesthetic of the 1960s, when mass culture and comics infiltrated the fine art, he spanned the decades until the 90s. In 1994, the same year he put his unique touch on a racing yacht, the artist produced Nude with Joyous Painting, featuring a character taken from the DC Comics Girls' Romances. Painted in oil and acrylic on canvas only three years before the artist's death, it incorporates the elements that have made his signature - the myriad dots evoking the twentieth century's printing techniques and the bold black contours delimit the subjects. Last July, it became the flagship lot of a sale of the Christie's house.

4. A Californian Landscape by David Hockney: $ 41 million

Over 6 feet high and 5 feet wide, Nichols Canyon canvas is an exception in the career of David Hockney, who does not paint large formats usually. Made in 1980, it testifies to a return to painting by the British artist after a brief hiatus and his years spent in the heights of Los Angeles, which he represents here. Through the use of bright colors and wavy shapes that situate the work as an heir to Fauvism and Expressionism, the artist gives these landscapes an almost hallucinatory fantasy vision. The vegetation becomes fantastic, and the hills separate by sinuous lines. Acquired by the gallery owner André Emmerich in 1982, two years after its creation, the painting returned to the market on December 7 thanks to the Phillips house to be sold for 5 million dollars above its initial estimate to an American collector.

5. The Chronicle of the Princes of the Tang Dynasty by Ren Renfa: $ 39.5 million

Seventy-five minutes is how long the auction lasted for the work signed by the painter and Chinese government official Ren Renfa. Dated beginning of the 14th century, this two-meter-long scroll represents five princes, including the future emperor of the Tang dynasty a few centuries earlier, riding horses, animals regularly represented by the artist. For its rarity due to the delicacy of its features and its unique colors, the work attracted more than a hundred bidders when it sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong last October. Ultimately, the Long Museum, a private museum in Shanghai, will win the auction with an auction of $ 39.5 million, well above the already high initial estimate.


© Numero.com article written by Matthieu Jacquet