Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Top 10 Expensive Nude

No.10 - Nu assis sur un divan (la belle Romaine)

Amedeo Modigliani

Worth: $16.77 million

Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian artist of Jewish origin. He lived the archetypal life of a struggling artist -- narcotics, alcohol, poverty, and early death. In his 35-year life span, he did manage to produce some extremely desirable art work, including this piece. Created in 1919, this painting features a woman wearing the early 20th century equivalent of a thong. His style is considered by some to be fairly unique and difficult to categorize, although there are suggestions of influences by Toulouse-Lautrec and Cezanne. This piece went to auction in 1999 -- which is when its enormous worth was crystalized.

No.9 - Les Femmes d’Alger (J)

Pablo Picasso

Worth: $18.6 million

Picasso lays claim to the next spot on our list with this extremely well known work. Interestingly, Picasso actually produced multiple versions of this concept, of which version “J” holds the record for being one of the most expensive, having sold for almost $19 million in 2005. It contains many of the characteristics of work by Picasso, with its strong cubist influences and its dysmorphic qualities. This work was crafted in 1955, and was inspired by the 1855 work by Eugene Delacroix Women of Algiers in their Apartment.

No.8 - Eve, grand modele-version sans rocher

Auguste Rodin

Worth: $18.97 million

In a break from the paintings we have seen so far, this is a statue by one of the most famous sculptors of all time, Auguste Rodin. Despite being regarded as the father of modern sculpture, Rodin was criticized by his peers for much of his work. Eve was his first attempt at a life-size model of the female form, and was intended as a partner piece to his sculpture Adam, although it was never completed. Specifically, one of his pupils fell in love with the model and married her. Despite this unfortunate episode, it has not stopped the sculpture being worth a staggering $19 million.

No.7 - Naked Portrait with Reflection

Lucien Freud

Worth: $23.5 million

The first entry on the list by a contemporary artist, Naked Portrait with Reflection was created in 1980, as an oil on canvas, and classified as a realist revival piece. The "reflection" in the title refers to the pair of man’s legs behind the sofa, believed to be those of the artist himself. Commentators have remarked that the decision to use the word naked, rather than nude, is a reflection of the vulnerability of the subject, who is baring all to the artist. There is a slight discomfort for the viewer of the image, as though we are intruding upon a scene.

No.6 - Nu au Collier

Pablo Picasso

Worth: $24 million

This masterpiece remained behind closed doors for 60 years, before it went to auction in 2002. The fact that it had been lost to the public for so long may has helped to contribute to its enormous price tag, but yet again, it demonstrates the incredible desirability that Picasso’s works possess. It was completed in the 1930s at the height of his relationship with his mistress Marie-Therese Walters, in a chateau he had bought for them to retreat to. The idea behind this piece was to exaggerate the subject’s feminine curves, to produce an image of fertility, and to encapsulate his love and desire for her.

No.5 - Nu Couche de Dos

Amedeo Modigliani

Worth: $26.9 million

The sale of this painting, for the enormous sum of $27 million, set a new record for a work by Modigliani. Similar to our entry at No. 10, it is immediately recognizable as a Modigliani. At the auction it self, and in subsequent commentary, people appeared mystified as to how this painting sold for as much as it did (it was estimated to sell for between $20 million to $25 million). It is an excellent example of Modigliani’s work, but still not the most expensive nude artwork ever sold.

No.4 - Les Femmes d’Alger (O)

Pablo Picasso

Worth: $32 million

Yet another Picasso to appear on our list and a sister version to one of our earlier entries, sersion “O” of the Les Femmes d’Alger is the most valuable of the series, and it is generally believed that the further down the alphabet he went, the better the painting became. With a few differences to its older, less polished sibling, this version was sold in 1997, and surpassed expectations set by its reserve price. The combined value of all Picasso art exceeds $2 billion -- it is small wonder that the works dominate this list.

No.3 - Benefits Supervisor Sleeping

Lucien Freud

Worth: $33.6 million

Painted in 1995 by Lucien Freud, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping is regarded by some art critics as the very best of his work from the 1990s. It is a very simple image of a woman reclining on a sofa, and is perhaps more interesting because she does not conform to modern standards of beauty. This work briefly held the position of most valuable artwork by a living artist. As his earlier entry on our list demonstrates, Freud is increasingly regarded as one of the most influential and important artists of this era.

No.2 - Study of Nude with Figure in a Mirror

Francis Bacon

Worth: $39.7 million

After his death in 1992, this painting was sold for a mere $1 million. In the intervening years, however, the value of contemporary art pieces skyrocketed, making Francis Bacon one of the most sought-after artists in the world, making his work among the most valuable. This grotesque image of a woman reclining on a sofa, with one of Bacon’s “spectator” figures looking on, is one of few paintings on our list which actually failed to live up to expectations (despite reaching such a high price, it still fell several million short of estimates).

No.1 - Nude in a Black Armchair

Pablo Picasso

Worth: $45.1 million

Perhaps, given what we have seen so far on this list, it was inevitable that the top spot would be claimed by yet another painting by Pablo Picasso. The incredible demand for his work has ensured that he repeatedly breaks auction records for his pieces -- with his Nude in a Black Armchair, he continued that trend. Created in 1932, it is a colorful piece filled with voluptuous curves and a plant which represents fertility. Another example of the work he did while with his mistress, it has maintained its position as the most valuable nude in the world since 1999.

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