Man Ray’s Noir et Blanche sets artist record

The earliest known print of Man Ray’s seminal Noir et Blanche achieved $3.1m at Christie’s last night.

Titled Stripped Bare: Photographs from the Collection of Thomas Koerfer, the auction took place during the annual Paris Photo Fair - which brings in collectors and art lovers from around the world.

Man Ray Blanche

Man Ray's Noir et Blanche is one of the world's most celebrated photographs 

The result is a new record for a photograph by Man Ray. It’s also now the eighth most valuable photo ever sold, just behind Andreas Gursky’s Chicago Board of Trade III (sold for $3.2m in 2013).

The work, first published in Vogue in 1926, is among the most famous works of surrealism. The model is the legendary Parisian socialite Kiki de Montparnasse, whose pale skin is contrasted with the ebony tones of a mask made by Ghana's Baule people.

Despite its fame, original prints are impossibly rare. Elton John bought one for $607,500 in 1998 – at the time the most anyone had paid for a photograph.

The sale also featured a print of Diane Arbus’ Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ, 1966, which sold for $638,023.

Diane Arbus Twins

Arbus photographed the girls at a convention for identical twins 

It’s one of a few copies of the iconic work that Arbus printed herself circa 1969-1971.

The price point for these so-called “lifetime” prints has advanced dramatically over the past couple of years, ever since one sold for $602,500 against a $220,000 estimate in 2015.

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