Christie’s Nets $388.5 M. in Highest Contemporary Art Auction Ever, Led by Record $87 M. Rothko

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Alexander Calder, Lily of Force, 1945

Tonight auctioneer Christopher Burge hammered down an impressive $388.5 million total with premium during Christie’s post-war and contemporary auction, his last sale at the rostrum. It was the highest sum ever recorded for a contemporary art auction, and easily surpassed the sale’s $330 million high estimate.

The packed room was lively and saw a frenzy of bids for the key lots, led by a Mark Rothko work, Orange, Red, Yellow, from 1961 that hammered at $77.5 million ($86.9 million with the buyer’s premium), a new world record for any contemporary work sold at auction, and a new record for the artist. Artist records were shattered throughout the evening with a total of 11 new artist highs by the end of the 59-lot sale. Read More

Artless in America

In the Name of Science, the Columnist Gets Scared at MoMA

Not haunting MoMA. (Photo by Martha Holmes//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

It is an unfortunate fact that when I get scared, I cry. Until I decided to go to the Museum of Modern Art, scare myself silly, and then look at One: Number 31, 1950 by Jackson Pollock, however, this was not something that affected my journalistic endeavors.

This self-inflicted terror was all in the name of science. My aim was to test out the theories of New York-based researchers Kendall J. Eskine, Natalie A. Kacinik and Jesse J. Prinz, who recently published an article in the journal Emotion titled “Stirring Images: Fear, Not Happiness or Arousal, Makes Art More Sublime.” Read More