On Tuesday, a painting by Pablo Picasso sold for $106.5 million at a
Christie's auction to an unidentified buyer. The painting, a 1932 oil
work called Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,
is now the most expensive piece of art ever to be sold at auction. The
sale might give the lie to reports of an enervated art market, but
bloggers seem more interested in sneering at whichever moneyed patron
paid a hundred million dollars for an apparently unexceptional work.
- Not Actually a Groundbreaking Painting The New York Times' Holland Cotter points out that while Picasso made plenty of vital, challenging canvases, this one finds the artist working well within his comfort zone. Picasso's paintings from this period "keep old orders firm, artist over subject, man over woman, woman as thing, a pink blob with closed eyes," Colland writes. Not only that, but the historic sale itself isn't even very earth-shaking: "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."
- Just an Ego Boost for the Buyer, concurs Reuters's Felix Salmon. "At these levels, buying art becomes trophy-hunting, a silly competition to see who can spend the most money," he sniffs. "The main reason for the price is not quality but size: the painting is a good 20 square feet, much larger than any of Picasso's cubist masterworks. The painting is instantly recognizable as a big Picasso, and it will surely make its buyer feel very rich and powerful every time he sees it. But the price has nothing to do with quality."
- 'Worth More Than Some GDPs' At ShortFormBlog, Ernie Smith is typically irreverent: "$106.5 million for Picasso's 'Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur (Nude, Green Leaves and Bust),' which is the most any rich jerk has ever paid for a painting in the history of ever."
- Practically Pornography! In a pre-auction write-up, and one of a relative handful of stories to actually focus on the painting, the Los Angeles Times' Christopher Knight sketches a deft analysis of the painting's erotic symbolism, from its less-than-subtle anatomical signifiers to its classical and biblical allusions. As Knight explains, Nude "is from the artist's great Dirty Old Man period -- which is to say, most everything he made after the age of about 19."