Most Expensive Art in the world

Making your art-snob friends jealous can be a full-time job. With the regularly fluctuating market and exorbitant prices that fine art fetches these days, you’ve got to be quick to stay on top of the game. In November of 2006, action-painter Jackson Pollock’s “No.5 1948” took the cake as most expensive painting sold to date. Sold by music mogul David Geffen of Geffen Records, it was claimed to have fetched $140 million. Pollock, who passed in 1956 at the age of 42, is a new addition to the list of prized canvases. While his paintings are highly regarded, this is the first of his works to skyrocket to such an exorbitant price. The painting itself, apparently a mixture of oil and canvas created in his highly successful “drip” style, is a swirling mixture of earth tones and black and white, that to the untrained eye may appear a splattered mess. His paintings have a certain harmony and are developed in such an enigmatic way that they are sure to hold some public interest for years to come.

No.5 1948
Pollock’s No.5 1948

Mid-summer 2006, Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was previously the most expensive painting sold. Fetching $135 million, the gold inlaid portrait is an excellent example of artwork from the Viennese Secession. This piece is a member of a particularly influential portfolio, as Klimt and his cohorts struggled to turn the art establishment of the time on its ear and still make highly involved, lavish, and beautiful works. The highly decorative painting breaks from traditional portraiture in its avoidance of focus on natural lighting in favor of the nearly psychedelic texture and pattern-making. The painting still exhibits a great deal of skill and handling in the face and figure, while revealing the early stages of the distortions Egon Scheile would embrace in his work in.

Sold to Ronald Lauer of the Neue Galerie in New York, Klimt’s portrait toppled the lead Pablo Picasso’s Boy with a Pipe had held for two years. Selling for $104.1 million at auction, this handsome piece displays a seated figure with a pipe in front of a decorative floral pattern. The painting captures something of realism mixed with a dark ambience. Despite a relatively bright pallet, the face of the seated boy reveals a darker demeanor.

Adjusting for inflation, two paintings sold to Ryoei Saito in 1990 close out the top five spots on a list of most expensive paintings ever sold. Pierre Auguste Renoir’s amazing Bal au moulin de la Galette, Montmartre, depicting a lavish outdoor ball in France, fetched $78 million at auction. Today, the inflation-adjusted value of this painting is approximately 110 million. Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet, purchased for $82.5 million by Saito, is now valued at $116.8 million. Saito passed in 1996, leaving the paintings’ whereabouts currently unknown.

Worthy of note is that many highly prized paintings are held tightly in the grip of permanent museum collections, and while more highly valued, are unlikely to be presented on the auction block. The Mona Lisa by DaVinci, for example held an insurance value of $100 million prior to a world tour in 1960. Today, this value is approximated at over $600 million, and the painting is encased in layer upon layer of bulletproof glass at the Musee de Lourve in Paris.

With the exception of the gold inlay and decorative encrusting on many of Klimt’s paintings, these artworks hold little, if any material value. Made generally of stretched canvas, wood and nails, it is their cultural significance and unquestionable rarity that propels these images to such astronomical prices. Picasso holds several seats on the list of highest priced paintings, because while rare and extremely influential, his paintings are at times still traded on the open market, not yet sequestered strictly to museum status. These values, as in any other commodity see a ridiculous inflation towards the extremes of the market. Seemingly set aside for only the super-rich, fine art has long been an exercise in elitism. An interesting note is a return in recent years to the figurative work of the impressionists and artists like Klimt, simultaneous with a revival of realism in depiction of the figure in current art trends. It is reassuring in many ways to see Klimt as the most highly valued, as he was an innovator for his time that stood for progress not only in his work but in his lifestyle, political and societal viewpoints.

Source: http://most-expensive.net/painting-in-world

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