Picasso, Warhol and Chagall set record prices at Christie's

Sales at Christie's New York's Prints and Multiples on April 26-27 totaled $8,065,313 with 87% sold by lot and 89% sold by value.

Top lot in the auction was Edvard Munch's Madonna, a lithograph with woodcut, which sold for $494,500. 

Actually titled Liebendes Weib, or Loving Woman, by Munch himself, the work is recognised as one of his most mysterious and important images.

Encapsulating the artist's fascination with the connections between life and death, desire and fear, holiness and carnality, Munch's Madonna is set against a backdrop of mystic swirling.

Edvard Munch's Madonna, presented
as a lusty femme fatale

Munch's depiction of Madonna presents her as a lusty, terrestrial femme fatale - which unsurprisingly scandalised contemporary audiences upon its unveiling.

According to interpretations, the painting's viewer takes the place of Madonna's lover as she conceives (some versions of the portraits including a strangely contorted foetus), in a spiritual study of life and death.

The work was also a landmark technical achievement. Munch experimented with colours upon what was originally only a lithograph on black, employing various new techniques to produce this striking image.

In the end, Munch's Madonna exceeded its lower estimate to bring $650,500, including buyer's premium.

The Christie's auction's second-highest sale was Four Tales from Arabian Night, a complete set of 12 signed and numbered lithographs by Marc Chagall which sold for $314,500.

Elsewhere, a 1958 Pablo Picasso linocut in colours, Buste de Femme d'après Cranach le Jeune, brought $218,500. And Andy Warhol's Mickey Mouse, from Myths, a screenprint in colours with diamond dust, brought $110,500. They sold to UK and US private collectors, respectively.

Pablo Picasso's Buste de Femme d'après Cranach le Jeune, from 1958

"Our two-day Prints and Multiples sale ended with our highest sold total since April 2008, pointing towards strong future sales in 2010," said Tudor Davies, Head of Prints for Christie's in a statement.

According to Davies, the Warhol and works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Roy Lichtenstein achieved record prices. The sale featured items from the collection of Michael Crichton, author of such thrillers as The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park and The Lost World, and the dramatic television series ER.

If you were unable to attend the successful Christie's sale, signed works by Pablo Picasso's muse Francoise Gilot, Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall are available elsewhere on the market - each especially well-priced from entry level investors and experienced collectors alike.


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