Art News Headlines 2016• London • Paris • New York • Beijing

Bookmark this page for fine arts headlines and cultural news stories from around the world, plus exhibition reviews, newspaper articles, plus the latest sale auction prices from Sotheby's and Christie's. We cover the latest X-ray discoveries about the painterly techniques of Old Masters (like Botticelli, Bernini and Raphael), modern artists (like Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin), as well as contemporary artists (like Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst). Look out for our coverage of the latest arts festivals, and competitions (like the Turner Art Prize), plus reviews of exhibits at the best art museums such as the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, the Prado, Neue Pinakothek, Tate Modern, as well as the Met, MOMA, Guggenheim and Whitney, in New York. We also feature stories about wealthy art collectors within the industry, and the world's most expensive paintings. Join our community of regular visitors and keep up to date with the global art world.


Art News Headlines 2016

Bookmark this page for important art news from around the world in 2016.

Art News Headlines 2015

Nov 13th 2015 - Art Market Nearing Peak in New York
The semi-annual bellweather, art auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's over the past fortnight appear to confirm that the market peak is close. Despite the success of "Reclining Nude" ("Nu Couche") (1918) by Modigliani, which sold to Shanghai's Mr Liu for $170.4m, it was thanks to lone bidders that 10 of the hightest-priced works - including "Nurse" by Roy Lichtenstein ($95.4m), and the abstract, "Untitled (New York City)" by Cy Twombly ($70.5m) - found homes to go to. However, with a New Year and the $200 million barrier beckoning, we are sure to see more records for the right works.

May 13th: Wool Word Art Sells for Nearly $30 million
Although total revenue fell far short of Christie's auction earlier in the week, Sotheby's auction of American-oriented contemporary art - headlined by Mark Rothko's unusually uplifting 1954 canvas "Untitled (Yellow and Blue)" which sold for $46.4 million - raised $379.7 million, from the 63 lots offered, 56 of which found buyers. Highlights included the monumental black and white enamel-on-aluminum word painting "Riot" (1990) by Christopher Wool, which sold for $29.9 million; and Sigmar Polke's 1967 painting "Dschungel (Jungle)", which sold for $27 million.

May 11th: Picasso Painting Sets World Record
The 1955 abstract oil painting entitled Les femmes d'Alger, by Pablo Picasso, sold at Christie's auction house this evening for a world record $179 million, beating the previous record of $142 million set in 2013 by Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud. Other records set included $141 million for the sculpture L'homme au doigt (Pointing Man) (1947), by Giacometti, making it the world's most expensive sculpture sold at auction. Other record prices were achieved for paintings by Mark Rothko, Chaim Soutine, Peter Doig, Jean Dubuffet and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Art News Headlines 2014

Nov 12th 2014:
Christie's evening auction of Postwar and Contemporary art was led by the sales of two screenprints by Andy Warhol (1928-87). These were Warhol's 1963 work "Triple Elvis" (Ferus Type), which went for $81.9 million; and "Four Marlons" (1966), a screenprint of the actor Marlon Brando, which sold for $69.6 million. Other successes included "Seated Figure" (1960) by Francis Bacon - one of the artist's series of paintings based on Velazquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X - which went for $45 million; and "Untitled Film Stills", a group of 21 photos by the surrealist camera artist Cindy Sherman, which were bought by the Manhattan financier David Ganek for $6.7 million.

Nov 11th: Rothko and Johns Highlight Sotheby's Sale
Sotheby's Contemporary art sale which grossed $343.6 million was highlighted by "No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) (1951)" by Mark Rothko, which sold for $45 million; "Flag" (1983), a 12-inch by 18-inch canvas by Jasper Johns, which sold for $45 million; and "Abstraktes Bild," (1991) by Gerhard Richter, which sold for $21.4 million.

Nov 5th: Manet Record set at Christie's
Christie's sale of Impressionist and Modern art at the Rockefeller Center, New York (which totalled $165.6 million), was headlined by "Le Printemps" Manet's 1881 portrait of the actress Jeanne Demarsy. The painting was eventually secured by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, for $65.1 million - a world record for the artist. A number of Cubist paintings and drawings, including works by Braque and Picasso, were exceeded by Magritte's surrealist painting entitled "Mesdemoiselles de L'Isle Adam," which went for $4.9 million.

Nov 4th: Giacometti Bronze sells for $101 million
Sotheby's evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art - which generated total sales of $422.1 million - was dominated by the sale of the 1950 bronze sculpture by Giacometti, entitled "Chariot", for a whopping $101 million, although it failed to match the $104.3 million that Lily Safra paid at Sotheby's in London, four years ago, for Giacometti's lanky bronze "Walking Man I". Other highlights included the $70.7 million paid for Modigliani's sculpture "Tete," (1911-12); and the $61.7 million paid for van Gogh’s "Still Life, Vase With Daisies and Poppies" (1890).

May 16th: Phillips Hosts $131 million Sale of Contemporary Art
The lead items were Untitled (Red, Blue, Orange) (1955) by Mark Rothko, which fetched $56 million; Flowers ($10.2 million) and Jackie ($3 million) - both by Pop artist Andy Warhol.

May 14th: Sotheby's Sale Grosses $364 million
Highlights at their Evening Sale of Contemporary Art included Untitled (1952) by Mark Rothko, which went for $66.2m; Six Self Portraits by Andy Warhol, which sold for $26.7 million; and Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta (1983) by Jean-Michel Basquiat which went for $21 million.

May 12th/13th: Christie's Holds World's Most Valuable Art Auction
With total sales of $744.9 million, Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art auction proved to be the most lucrative auction in art market history. The two evening sales created 26 new world auction records, with 2 works topping $80 million each, 4 selling for over $50 million each, 12 for over $20 million, 19 for more than $10 million and 86 for more than $1 million. Highlights included Barnett Newman's Black Fire I (1961), which sold for $84.2m; and Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards (1984), which went for $80.8m. Other successes included Race Riot (1964) ($62.8 million) and White Marilyn (1962) ($41 million), both by Andy Warhol.

March 10th, 2014: World's Largest Spray-Painted Mural
More than 100 female artists in London have combined to create a record-breaking 300m wall painting in Leake Street Tunnel in the south of the city. The event was part of the street art event Femme Fierce, which celebrates the work of women graffiti artists around the world. The tunnel first achieved artistic fame as the site for the May 2008 Cans Arts Festival, the brainchild of the famous UK street artist Banksy. The mural, produced by painters from Africa, South America, the Middle East and Europe, took six hours to finish, and follows the creation in 2011 by Joe and Max of the world's longest piece of 3D street art in London's Canary Wharf, which measured a whopping 106.3m.

Feb 4-13: Record Sales at Christie's
Auctions of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art at Christie's London produced a number of record sales. The top price for a modern work was £34.8 million ($56.5m/ €41.8m) for a large colourful Cubist canvas, Still Life with Checked Tablecloth (1915), by the Spanish painter Juan Gris - which set a new world record price for any Cubist work of art. The highlight of Christie's Contemporary Art Sale was Francis Bacon's Portrait of George Dyer (1966), which went for £37.6 million ($62m, €44.3m). Dyer (Bacon's muse) first met the artist in London in 1963. This portrait was first shown at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971, two days after Dyer was found dead from a drink and drugs overdose in his room at the Hotel des Saint-Peres, Paris. It last changed hands in 2000 at Christie’s New York, for $6.6 million. Other record prices were set for artworks by Carlo Carra, Le Corbusier and Dorothea Tanning. Chinese bidders were again in evidence, focusing on established artists like Gauguin, Cezanne and Monet.

Feb 5-12: Sotheby's Sells Outstanding Pissarro
One of the highlights of Sotheby's Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art sales was undoubtedly Camille Pissarro's Boulevard Montmartre, Matinee de Printemps (1897), one of the most important Impressionist paintings to be offered for sale in the past decade, which went for £19.7 million (€24m), twice its pre-sale estimate, thus establishing a new record price for the artist. Other highlights included Van Gogh's L'Homme Est En Mer (1889) which also made €24 million - the highest price offered at a London auction for any work by the artist over the past 25 years - and Bolero Violet (1941) by the Fauvist Henri Matisse, which made €11 million. The most valuable example of Surrealism sold at Sotheby's was Le Beau Monde (1962) by the Belgium classical surrealist Rene Magritte, which was hammered down at £7.9 million (€10m).

Jan 1: Van Gogh and Picasso Still On Top
2013 was a relatively good year for the international fine art market, as illustrated by the New York auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's, where more than $1 billion worth of art changed hands in 24 hours. Interestingly, despite the fact that contemporary artists like Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol seem to be dominating the market right now, the two painters whose works have made the highest prices after adjusting for inflation are Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and Pablo Picasso (1882-1973). Van Gogh has two in the Top 10 and Picasso three. For details, please see: 10 Most Expensive Paintings After Adjusting for Inflation.

Art News Headlines 2013

Nov 15th, 2013: New Record for Warhol Painting
The highlight of Sotheby's New York sale of postwar and contemporary art, yesterday, was a three-way bidding war for Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) (1963) by Andy Warhol. The work smashed its pre-sale estimate of $60 million, fetching $105.4 million and making it the world's 4th most expensive painting to be sold at auction. New records were also set for Cy Twombly and Brice Marden. Sotheby's auction generated total sales of $380.6 million (€283 million).

Nov 13th: Francis Bacon Triptych Sells for World Record Price
Last night at Christie's "Postwar and Contemporary sale", Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) a life-size triptych by Francis Bacon, became the world's most expensive painting to be sold at auction, when it was hammered down for $142.4 million, beating the previous record set by Munch's Scream by $22.5 million. At the same auction, the American pop-artist Jeff Koon's stainless steel sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange) fetched $58.4 million, the highest price for a living artist. Christie's auction generated total sales in excess of $691.5 million, the highest total for any single auction in history.

August 2nd: Saatchi Plans "No-Reserve" Auction of Postmodernist Works
The British contemporary art collector Charles Saatchi (b.1943) intends to auction about 50 giant works (installations and sculptures) at Christie's London, on 17 October. Prior to the sale (12-18 October), all items will be on display at a spacious former postal sorting office in central London. They include works by former Young British Artists like Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, and others. All lots will be sold on the day, as there will be no reserves in place. Proceeds from the sale will go towards the upkeep of the Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, Chelsea.

July 17th: Dealer Indicted by Federal Grand Jury
Art dealer Yelena Tylkina Glafira Rosales was today indicted in New York on charges that she knowingly sold 60 fake paintings to a number of unspecified galleries. These works included several abstract expressionist paintings - allegedly never before exhibited - including so-called works by gesturalists Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell, and by colour field painter Mark Rothko. The indictment includes charges of tax fraud and money laundering, all of which are denied by Rosales.

June 28th: London Art Market Lacklustre
The appetite for modern and contemporary art was decidedly poor at London auctions arranged by Christie's (25 June) (sales £70.3 million); Sotheby's (26 June) (sales £75.8 million) and Phillips (27 June) (sales £12.3 million). At the equivalent three New York sales held mid-May, buyers spent almost four times as much - £326.7 million at Christie's alone. Highlights included: the much touted triptych, "Three studies of Isabel Rawsthorne" (1966), by Francis Bacon, which went for £13.3m (pre-sale estimate £10m-£15m) at Sotheby's. Andy Warhol, however, fared less well: three of the nine works by the artist remained unsold.

May 16th: Richter Rides Again!
The Dresden painter Gerhard Richter (b.1932) has been re-confirmed as the world's most valuable living artist, following the sale of his 1968 photo-realist painting Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan) for a whopping $37.1 million at Sotheby's contemporary art auction in New York, yesterday. This beats his own previous record for the highest auction price achieved for a work by a living artist, namely the $33.1 million paid for his abstract painting, Abstraktes Bild, in 2012.

May 8th: Christie's Auction Falls Short
Christie's New York Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art generated $158.5 million in a lacklustre auction, against pre-sale estimates of $131-$190 million. Highlights included: Le Petit Patissier (c. 1927) by Chaim Soutine, which went for $18 million - a record for the artist; Les Trois Acrobates (1926) by Chagall ($13 million); Selbstbildnis mit Modell (1913) by Egon Schiele ($11.3 million); La Juive (c.1908) by Modigliani ($6.84 million); and Argenteuil, Fin d'Apres-midi (1872) by Claude Monet ($6 million). A notable failure was Madame Matisse au Kimono (1905) by Andre Derain, which failed to attract a single bid.

May 7th: Sotheby's Modern Art Sale Totals $230 million
Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art sale in New York was led by Les Pommes (c.1890), a still-life painting by Paul Cezanne, which surged past its $25-$35 million pre-sale estimate to sell for $41.6 million. Other sale masterpieces included L'Amazone (1909) by Modigliani, ($25.9 million); Trois Femmes a la Table Rouge (1921) by Fernand Leger ($7.2 million); Paysage a la Ciotat (1907) by Georges Braque ($15.8 million - a record for the artist); Animal Dans les Fleurs (c.1959) by Marc Chagall ($4.8 million - a record for a work on paper by the artist). Total sales were the highest ever at a Sotheby's Modern art sale, except for last May's auction at which Munch's The Scream sold for a world record $120 million.

April 25, 2013: Shortlist Announced for Turner Prize 2013
Tate Britain today revealed the four artists shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013. They are: Laure Prouvost (Installation artist, film-maker); Tino Sehgal (live encounters between people); David Shrigley (drawings, photography, sculpture and film); and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (painting). This year the exhibition will be staged at Ebrington in Derry, Northern Ireland, as part of the UK City of Culture 2013. The winner will be announced on Monday 2 December 2013. The members of the Turner Prize 2013 jury are: Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain (Chair); Annie Fletcher, Curator of Exhibitions Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Ralph Rugoff, Director of Hayward Gallery, London; Susanne Gaensheimer, Director of Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Art; Declan Long, lecturer at National College of Art and Design, Dublin. For a list of past winners, see: Turner Prize-Winners (1984-2012).

April 17: Princie Diamond Sells for Almost $40 million
Yesterday, Christie's auction house in New York sold the celebrated 34.65-carat "Princie Diamond", a 300-year old pink cushion-cut gem from the Golconda mines in India, for $39.3 million, to an anonymous phone buyer. The second-highest price ever paid for a piece of jewellery art at auction, it was a world record for a Golconda diamond.

March 15: America Regains Top Spot in 2012 Art Market
According to the art economist Clare McAndrew, strong US sales, notably for fine art, allied to a slowdown across the board in the Chinese market, meant that the United State again regained its number one ranking in world art sales during 2012, accounting for 33 percent of all sales - a 4 percent increase over the year before. In comparison, China accounted for 25 percent of all sales, a drop of 5 percent, with the UK, placed third with 23 percent. These findings were announced officially at a panel discussion held during Tefaf in Maastricht.

March 1: Mei Moses Index Down in 2012
The Mei Moses World All Art Index, which monitors art auction sales around the world, fell 3.28 percent in 2012. At Sotheby's, worldwide auction sales dropped from $4.9bn to $4.4bn, while Christie's rose 7 percent to $5.3bn.

February 13/14: Christie's London Auctions of Post-War Art
Christie's Day and Evening auctions of post-war and contemporary art generated combined sales of $150,418,090 (€111,575,060). The most expensive lot of the day auction was Robert Indiana's Love, which sold for $876,137 (€653,429); the best of the evening sale was Jean-Michel Basquiat's Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown), which sold for $14.6 million (€10.8m). In addition, record prices were achieved for the contemporary painter Peter Doig, the Art Informel painter Pierre Soulages, and others.

February 12: Sotheby's London Contemporary Art Sale
Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction fetched a total of $116,357,664 (€86,321,943), which was the firm's second-highest total for a London ssale of contemporary art in February. The highlight was Three Studies for a Self-Portrait (1980), an oil on canvas triptych by Francis Bacon, painted when the artist was 71, which sold for $21.5 million (€15.9m) - a figure towards the higher end of pre-sale estimates.

February 6: Christie's Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale
Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale realised a total of $213,426,725 (€157,340,801), with 89 percent of lots sold. The top price was achieved by Jeanne Hebuterne (au chapeau) (1919), by Modigliani, which went for $42.1 million (€31m). In addition, a Berthe Morisot portrait set a new record for a female artist at auction.

February 5: Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Sale
Sotheby's Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist Art Evening Sales generated sales of $190,500,035 (€140,798,252), the second-highest ever total for the firm, in this category. The highlight was the 1932 painting Femme Assise pres d'une Fenetre, by Picasso, which sold for $45 million (€33.2m). Impressionist highlights included Nympheas avec Reflets de Hautes Herbes (1914-17) by Claude Monet, which went for $14.1 million (€10.4m), and Apres le Bain (Femme s'essuyant) (c.1885) a pastel painting by Edgar Degas, which was bought for $12.2 million (€9 million). The Degas went for twice the high estimate, while both the Picasso and the Monet went for sums in the lower range of pre-sale estimates.

January 1: Guston Centenary
2013 marks the centenary of the birth of Philip Guston (1913-80), one of the most innovative abstract expressionist painters. Born in Canada to Russian parents, he grew up in Los Angeles, where he was a school mate of Jackson Pollock, travelled around Mexico, settled in New York. His singular style has been described as "abstract impressionism." Had a revival during the 1970s, as a pioneer of "New Image Painting". Not as famous as Pollock, de Kooning or Rothko, but well worth a look.

Art News Headlines 2012

3 December: Elizabeth Price Wins Turner Prize
The video installationist Elizabeth Price was today announced as the winner of the 2012 Turner Prize for contemporary art. The three other shortlisted artists were: Spartacus Chetwynd (Performance artist), Luke Fowler (Film-maker), and Paul Noble (Painter and draughtsman). See also: Turner Prize Winners (1984-2012).

27 November: Irish Art Finding Buyers
Yesterday's auction of important Irish art at Whyte's in Dublin grossed over €1 million, with threequarters of all lots sold. The top price was €70,000 for Louis le Brocquy's tapestry Adam and Eve in The Garden. One in five of the artworks sold exceeded their higher estimate.

Oct 23: Turner Prize Shortlist
Following the recent announcement of the shortlist for the British Turner Prize for Contemporary Art (2012) - namely, Spartacus Chetwynd (performance art), Luke Fowler and Elizabeth Price (video installation artists), and Paul Noble (traditional draughtsman, painter) - the odds are that the prize will go, once again, to an "entertainer" rather than an artist. Shame.

How to analyze a painting? See our educational essays: Art Evaluation and How to Appreciate Paintings.

Oct 16: Rotterdam Art Heist
Last night, in the biggest ever art robbery in Holland, seven priceless paintings were stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and Lucian Freud, as well as two works by Claude Monet: "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London". The works were part of an exhibit on loan from the private Triton Foundation Collection, owned by Willem Cordia.

Sept 18: Pablo Picasso at Evansville
The Museum of Arts, History and Science in Evansville, Indiana, has just discovered that they possess a rare work of art by Picasso. "Seated Woman with Red Hat" is a gemmail - a type of stained glass art, first developed in the 1930s by the Swiss artist Jean Crotti. Apparently the work was mis-described when acquired, 40 years ago and has only recently come to light. Too valuable to keep, the work is expected to be auctioned for $30-40 million.

Sept 10: Marlon Brando Coming to Christie's
A silkscreen portrait of legendary film star Marlon Brando, created by Andy Warhol (1928-87), will be auctioned at Christie's postwar and contemporary art sale in New York later this year, it was announced, earlier. Owned by art collector Donald L. Bryant, who bought it at Christie's 9 years ago for $5 million, the picture is estimated to sell for $20 million. The record auction price for a Warhol is currently $71.7 million - paid at Christie's in 2007 for Green Car Crash I. See: Most Expensive Paintings: Top 20.

Aug 20: Online Art Auction
A total of over 250 original works of art by artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Andy Warhol and many others, are to be offered for sale in an Internet auction on UniversalLive website, later this month. Unusually, there is no reserve on any of the items up for auction which means, regardless of the price offered, everything will be sold.

Aug 12: Picasso Portrait Comes to London
A rarely seen portrait by a young Picasso, painted when he was just twenty, has gone on display at the National Gallery in London. The portrait is of a famous bohemian figure in turn-of-the century Paris, Bibi la Puree, whom Picasso would have met in the bars they both frequented in Montmartre. So far, the only sight of it has been a small black-and-white photograph.

July 31: Madonna Returns to Warsaw
A painting by the artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, entitled Madonna under the Fir Tree (c.1510) has been returned to the Cathedral of St John in Warsaw where it had been hanging since the early part of the 16th century. After the war, the 'Madonna', which had been broken into two pieces, was returned to Warsaw. Here it was restored by Siegfried Zimmer, a German priest and amateur painter, who copied the painting and stole the original. The switch was not discovered until 1961. Following negotations with the estate of the original's 'owner', the painting has now been returned to it's original home.

July 9: Joan Miro Record at Sotheby's
"Peinture (Etoile Bleue)" (1927) by the Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miro (1893-1983) sold at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London this week for three times the amount it sold for a mere five years ago. The abstract composition went for £23.5 million, almost fifty percent higher than the previous record for a Miro of £16.8 million, set four months ago.

July 1: Record for John Constable at Christie's
At Christie's sale of Old Master and British Paintings, "The Lock" (1824), a landscape by English artist John Constable (1776-1837) - one of the Stour Series - was sold to an anonymous buyer for over £22.4 million, a world record for a work by the artist.

June 1: Goncharova's Painting, 50 years on
Last week, in the first of a series of auctions on Russian art at Sotheby's of London, the top price of $4.6 million was for an early primitivist painting by Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), who died fifty years ago.

May 23: China Now Biggest Art Market
According to several indicators, including figures from Christie's and Sotheby's, Chinese buyers now account for 30-40 percent of all global sales, with Chinese ceramics and other decorative arts accounting for most of the demand.

May 13: New World Record for a Rothko
This week it was the turn of Christie's New York, whose auction of postwar and contemporary art achieved all-time record sales of $388.5 million. The biggest single contributor was an anonymous telephone bidder who paid $86.9 million for the abstract expressionist painting Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) by Mark Rothko. Now the 6th most expensive painting to be sold at auction, it gives Rothko his second Top 20 ranking.

May 3: Scream Goes For $120 million
Yesterday, Sotheby's New York auctioned The Scream (1895) by the haunted Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch for a record-breaking $119.9 million, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. It easily exceeded the $106.5 million paid for Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves & Bust (1932) in 2010.

May 1: Renoir at the Frick
A group of 9 large-scale oil paintings by the French Impressionist artist Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), is currently on show at the prestigious Frick Collection, in New York. Art museums from around the world have loaned some of Renoir's finest works for the exhibition. See it if you can.

April 25: Louis le Brocquy Dies
Louis le Brocquy, one of Ireland's most versatile and creative artists has died, aged 95. The first internationally successful Irish modernist painter, he was also known as a master of tapestry art.

April 16: Art is a Good Investment
The Financial Times states that last year, according to the Mei Moses World All Art Index, investment grade artworks outperformed both the S&P 500 and the FTSE All Share indexes, growing in value by an impressive 10.2 percent.

April 2: Renoir in Basel
An exhibition of fifty paintings by the great impressionist painter, Renoir, begins today at the Kunstmuseum, Basel. The exhibition, entitled "Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie - The Early Years" includes still lifes, portraits and landscapes including many of Renoir's most famous works from the collections of of other museums including the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan in New York and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Also included are a number of lesser known paintings which belong to private collectors.

March 28: Sotheby's Auction Success
Sotheby's Paris sale of book illustrations and illustrated manuscripts generated an impressive $6 million: double its pre-sale estimate. The highest price was for a book by Balzac containing an original ink drawing by Pablo Picasso. Also sold, was an album of drawings by Matisse dating to 1930.

Mar 8: Vermeer Oil Painting Back on Display
Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (1663-64), an 'interior' genre painting by Jan Vermeer, leader of the Delft School of Dutch Realism, will soon be back on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Following major restoration work, which enables us to see far more of Vermeer's orginal paintwork, the masterpiece is due to reappear at the end of this month.

Mar 1: Knoedler's Knocked
The fine art world is still reeling from a number of contentious sales by New York's oldest art gallery, Knoedler's. Apparently, a number of works - originally sold to the gallery by Galfira Rosales, an art dealer from Long Island, and then sold on to gallery customers - are the subject of expensive litigation, including an alleged Jackson Pollock (sold for $17 million), and an alleged Robert Motherwell (whose $650,000 price was refunded). In both cases, it is said that certain colour pigments used were not invented until after the death of the painters in question.

Feb 9: Antoni Tapies (1923-2012)
The Spanish abstract artist, Antoni Tapies, died at the age of 88 at his home in Barcelona this week. He is believed to have painted over 8,000 works, during his long life his work has been exhibited in museums and institutions all around the world, including solo exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He represented Spain at the Venice Biennale in 1993 and was awarded the Golden Lion prize. He was also awarded the Velazquez Prize, Spain's top honour for artists in 2003.

Feb 7: Drysdale Centenary
Today is the centenary of the birth of Russell Drysdale (1912-81), one of the best Australian landscape painters of the 20th century.

Feb 1: Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)
Dorothea Tanning, who was one of the few female artists involved in the surrealist movement, died this week at her home in New York, aged 101. Even though an accomplished artist in her own right, Tanning was probably better known as the wife of Max Ernst, the German artist and sculptor who was one of the main pioneers of both the Dada movement and Surrealism.

Jan 16: Future Generation Art Prize
The second Future Generation Art Prize, worth $100,000, which is funded by the Ukrainian collector Victor Pinchuk, has been launched and is open to artists around the world. The director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Richard Armstrong and Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Gallery are members of the prize's board, and four well-known artists - Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky and Takashi Murakami — will serve as mentors to the winning artist. The winner of the first Future Generation Art Prize was the Brazilian artist Cinthia Marcelle.

Jan 1: Kippenberger Cleaned Out
Looking back on 2011, we empathize with the cleaner (turned contemporary art critic) at the Ostwall Gallery in Dortmund who inadvertently ruined a $1 million modern installation sculpture by the controversial postmodernist artist Martin Kippenberger (1953-97). Apparently she scoured a 'dirty' trough whose 'dirt' was actually paintwork depicting a dried-out puddle of rain-water.

Art News Headlines 2011

December 18: Bingham's Centenary
2011 was the 200th anniversay of the birth of George Caleb Bingham (1811-79), the great Missouri painter who specialized in landscape paintings of the American frontier. Along with other artists like Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington and others, Bingham brought East coast art-lovers face-to-face with the American wilderness. His most famous picture is Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845), now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

December 11: New Portrait by Rembrandt
X-ray imaging has revealed that an unknown oil-on-panel painting is in fact a work by the great Dutch Realist portraitist Rembrandt (1606-69). The work, entitled Old Man with a Beard, shows an old man with a white beard, and is believed to have been executed by the artist around 1630.

December 6: Martin Boyce Wins Turner Prize
The installation-sculptor Martin Boyce, aged 44, was announced on Channel 4 TV last night as the winner of this year's Turner Prize for contemporary art. The Emperor's new clothes look fabulous. Boyce's installation takes up a whole room and contains various pieces which are reminiscent of a public park. There are trees (the pillars which support the gallery ceiling), leaves on the floor (cut from paper) and an angular park bin and park bench. He was inspired by the designers Joel and Jan Martel who created a modernist garden, complete with concrete trees in Paris in 1925. Judges believe that Boyce reinvents the language of early modern art. (Are they joking or what?)

November 29: Leonardo Self-Portrait on Show
A drawing by the High Renaissance artist, Leonardo da Vinci, is currently on show at an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification in Turin, Italy. Shown in public only twice before, in 1929 and 2006, the drawing is the only self-portrait accredited to the artist,and is being displayed inside a special shock-proof glass case filled with sensors. The drawing is housed in the Royal Library in Turin and is insured for a sum of €50 million.

November 16: Records Tumble at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art
The 1961 painting "I Can See the Whole Room! and There's Nobody in It!", by the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97), sold yesterday for $43 million, a record for the artist. Other records included the sale of a bronze spider by sculptor Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) for $10.7 million, as well as a photograph by the German artist, Andreas Gursky (b.1955) for $4.3 million - making it the costliest item of fine art photography in history.

November 1: Russian Icon Paintings Repatriated
Seventy religious icons have been donated to the Russian Orthodox Church by a Russian property developer. Sergei Shmakov spent a year abroad tracking down the icon paintings, valued at $1 million, which were taken out of Russia after the Revolution. The icons were found at auctions, antique shops and markets in a number of countries and include a rare mid-18th century icon entitled St John the Theologian in Silence depicting the apostle composing his Gospel, with his fingers over his lips and an angel peering over his shoulder. The Russian culture minister has said that Shmakov's donation was an act of "great patriotism" and that the people of Russia appreciated the return of not only sacred, but "cultural treasures, works of art."

27 Oct: Export Ban on Guardi Painting
Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon, a painting of the Rialto Bridge by Italian painter Francesco Guardi, in the manner of Canaletto and Bellotto, has had a temporary export ban placed on it by the British Arts Minister, Ed Vaizey. The work of art was sold for a record £26.7 million to an unknown buyer by Sotheby's of London earlier this year. It is hoped that by delaying the granting of an export licence, it will give time for someone to come up with the money to keep the painting in Britain.

12 Oct: Ceramics at Sotheby's
A major auction of ancient ceramics from Persia, Iraq and Central Asia (including part of Harvey Plotnick's huge collection of medieval Islamic pottery) was held last week at Sotheby's, London, with disappointing results. Expecting sales revenues of around £18-22 million, the auction actually generated £8.5 million, with between 30-44 percent of items failing to find buyers, including a 13th century Khurasan silver-inlaid brassewer. Demand was brisk, however, for medieval Islamic items of clothing with one item - a regal post-Sassanian silk shirt from central Asia, woven with blue, cream and honey silk - selling for £713,250.

Sept 28: Jack B Yeats Painting Sells for €1 million in Ireland
A Fair Day, Mayo (1925), an oil painting by Jack B. Yeats, was hammered down for €1 million at Adam's sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin (against a pre-sale estimate of €500,000-€800,000 – the highest price ever paid at auction for a painting in Ireland. Previously owned by Eamon de Valera, among others, it was sold to an anonymous collector, although it is believed that it will remain in Ireland. For full details of other record-breaking pictures by Irish painters, see: Most Expensive Irish Paintings.

Sept 28: Record Sales at Christie's "Asia Week"
Christie's of New York racked up record sales of $75 million at their recent auctions of Asian art. ($38 million from Chinese art; $7.3 million from modern and contemporary Indian and Southeast Asian art.) By comparison, Sotheby's made £31.5 million, mostly from Chinese painting, sculpture and ceramics.

Sept 26: Hidden Goya Picture Uncovered
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has discovered a 'hidden' portrait by the Spanish Old Master Goya, lying underneath his Portrait of Ramon Satue (1823). The concealed image, which was discovered using scanning macro x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, is an early portrait of an unknown Spanish general. The technique used to make this discovery is very new and has been developed by the Universities of Antwerp and Delft.

Sept 25: $11.4 million Chinese Masterpiece Might Be a Fake!
A painting, sold by the Jiuge International Auction House last year, as a masterpiece by the Chinese 20th century painter Xu Beihong, is now thought to be a fake. The oil on canvas nude, which sold for $11.4 million, was listed as a study of the artist's wife painted in 1920. The work was authenticated for the auction house by the artist's son, Xu Boyang. Best known for his ink on paper works, Xu Beihong is ranked by Artprice as one of the top ten artists, based on auction value, with sales in excess of $176 million. Having travelled to Paris in the 1920s to study Western Art, Beihong was a Chinese pioneer in the use of oil on canvas. The controversy has emerged thanks to an open letter which was recently published by a group of former students at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts. The letter stated that the painting was actually painted by one of them in 1983, thirty years after the artist's death, as part of an art class exercise. A number of Chinese experts have confirmed that the painting is not of Jiang Biwei, Beihong's wife and some have declared that the painting bears no resemblance to Xu's style.

Sept 4: Graffiti Art the Hamptons
Stencilled paintings by the world's most famous street artist, Banksy, were recently shown at an exhibition at the Keszler Art Gallery in the Hamptons. Originally the works had been spray-painted onto walls in Bethlehem by Banksy, in 2007. According to the Gallery, all the pieces on display were legally purchased. Apparently, the British art dealer Robin Barton bought them (attached to over 5 tons of concrete) from two Palestinian art dealers who had tried to sell them on the Internet.

Aug 20: Rembrandt Heist Solved
Last week, in a meticulously-planned heist, thieves in California grabbed a pen-and-ink drawing by the Dutch portrait painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) from the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey, California. The drawing, entitled The Judgment (c.1655) was valued at $250,000. Two days later, following an anonymous tip-off, the work of art was recovered from a Church in the San Fernando valley.

Aug 16: Warhol's Eggs Coming to the Tate St Ives, UK
Andy Warhol's little known silkscreen print Eggs (1982) is to be shown in the UK for the first time this autumn. One of 25 egg paintings completed by the artist, it will be the main attraction at the Tate St Ives Autumn exhibition entitled The Indiscipline of Painting which will feature works from the 1960s up to the present by 50 British, American and European contemporary artists.

Aug 2: Restoration of Carracci's Farnese Frescoes
Four centuries after Annibale Carracci dazzled Rome with his ceiling frescoes in the gallery of the Palazzo Farnese (c.1596-1601), a €1 million fund has been raised to clean them up. Regarded as the start of Baroque painting, Carracci's murals set new standards in ceiling decoration. The forthcoming restoration promises to return much of their original splendour.

July 30: Art Theft: Police Recover Picasso Artwork
A man caught on video camera has been charged with stealing a sketch by Picasso entitled Tete de Femme (Head of a Woman) from the Weinstein Gallery, as reported below. When police entered his home in New Jersey, they found eleven other works of art which had disappeared from a number of venues in New York City over recent times.

July 20: Wildenstein Institute Controversy
Missing Impressionist masterpieces worth millions of euros have been unearthed in the vault of the Wildenstein Institute in Paris. As a result, Guy Wildenstein, the wealthy French art dealer, has been charged with fraud. In response, Wildenstein has claimed that the presence of the lost works is due to "an oversight" by his late father, who established the Institute after making a fortune buying and selling Impressionist paintings.

July 9: New Da Vinci Painting Unearthed
Art experts are agog following the authentication of a previously unknown painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Entitled Salvator Mundi, the painting - which is owned by a consortium of art dealers - has been examined by curators at the Met in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as by a number of Da Vinci scholars in London. The rare painting - asking price, reportedly $200 million - will be on display at the Da Vinci Exhibition in London later this year.

7 July: San Francisco Art Heist
Head of a Woman, a sketch by Picasso valued at $200,000, was stolen from the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco. The framed drawing was hanging near the entrance to the Gallery and it appears that a man in his early-30s walked in and simply took it off the wall. He then made his getaway by hailing a taxi! The sketch, which was drawn in 1962 is part of the Maurice Bresnu Collection. Bresnu was chauffeur to the artist and received a number of drawings as gifts from him. Police believe it will be difficult for the thief to sell the work as it is registered in the database of the Weinstein Gallery and they will be searching art markets worldwide to recover it.

July 1: Art On The Move
The Barnes Foundation which houses an exceptional collection of European Modern Art is moving it's collection, valued at $25 billion, to a new home near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Four thousand works of art, including 108 Renoirs, which is the world's largest single group, 69 paintings by the French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne and 59 works by Henri Matisse. Other famous paintings being moved, include: Picasso's Woman with a Cigarette, Cezanne's Bathers and his largest version of The Card Players, Van Gogh's Postman and numerous paintings by Modigliani, Degas, Seurat, Gauguin and Monet, to name but a few. The move comes after a decade long legal battle between those who wanted to relocate the collection to a larger premises and those who wished to maintain the vision of the gallery's founder, Albert C Barnes, limiting public access and allowing the school to use the art collection for study purposes.

June 29: Record Sale at Sotheby's
Sothebys achieved the highest ever total sales (over £108 million), for any sale of Contemporary Art in London. A major contributing factor was the Duerckheim Collection of German Art from the 1960s and 1970s, which sold for over £60 million. Top lots included Crouching Nude (1961) by Francis Bacon (£8.3 million); Untitled by the graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (£5.4 million); and a silkscreen portrait of Debbie Harry (£3.7 million) by Andy Warhol.

June 28: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art
Francis Bacon's Study for a Portrait made the top price of $25 million at Christie's auction of contemporary art this week. Another heavy-hitter was Mao (1973) by Andy Warhol which sold for $11.1 million. A number of drawings and paintings by British artist Lucian Freud, were also well received: His drawing, Woman Smiling (1958) sold for $7.5 million.

June 23, 2011: Reclusive Heiress Leaves $400 million To Arts
Heiress to a copper mining fortune, Huguette Clark has died at the age of 104 and has left her estimated estate of $400 million to a foundation which promotes the arts. The Bellosguardo Foundation will also receive Ms Clark's 42 room Fifth Avenue apartment, said to be the largest apartment in New York as well as the dozens of paintings which hung on the walls, including works by John Singer Sargent, Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and William Merritt Chase. Also included is a Stradivarius violin and rare first editions of the book Paradise Lost by Milton. The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is to receive a Water Lilies (1907) by Claude Monet which has not been seen by the public since 1925. Ms Clark's father handed his entire art collection to the Corcoran after his death in 1925. Ms Clark was briefly married in the 1920s but after a divorce moved into her Fifth Avenue apartment with her mother. When her mother died in 1963, she continued to live there, although was seldom ever seen in public again.

June 18, 2011: Sotheby's Paris Art Sale Achieves New Records
Sotheby's Paris set several new records during their recent sale of Old Master and 19th Century Paintings this week. The first was the $4 million for a Portrait of a Young Woman in an Interior Holding a Glass by Dutch painter and engraver Cornelis Pietersz Bega (or Cornelis Pietersz Begijn) (1632-1664). Another record was the $170,000 for Village Square by French artist Nicolas-Antoine Taunay (1755-1830). Taunay was best known for his landscapes having studied from the age of 13 with artists like the Italian painter Francesco Giuseppe Casanova (1727-1803), whose landscape and history paintings inspired Taunay's own subject matter. A third world record was achieved for a work by French artist Alphonse-Henri Perrin (1798-1874), whose Gardens of the Villa Medici in Rome sold for $241,000, more than six times it's estimate. Popular 19th century painting and drawing included works by leading French landscapists. Two canvases by the great romantic French artist Camille Corot (1796-1875), who was a pivotal figure in landscape painting, were on sale: Archway/Auteuil, which tripled it's $70,000 estimate to sell for $232,536 while Souvenir of Normandy (Sunset) sold for $163,954.

June 6, 2011: Russian Artist Ilya Repin Still a Top Seller
Christie's auction house claimed a new auction record for their sale of a painting by Russian artist Ilya Repin. Repin’s 1875 oil painting A Parisian Cafe sold for £4.5 million at the start of Russian Art Week in London. The large canvas depicts a bustling cafe crowd and had only been expected to make £3.5 million. Auctioneers mentioned that the increase in oil prices was creating more billionaires in Moscow who were able afford such works of art.

June 4, 2011: Irish Art A-Listers Continue To Sell
Irish artists Paul Henry and Jack B Yeats still lead the way at Irish art sales. A small oil landscape painting of the West of Ireland by Henry sold for €106,000 at a Whyte's auction in Dublin this week. At rival auctioneers Adams, an oil on board by Yeats entitled 'The Westering Sun' fetched €135,000, the highest price paid for any Irish art work in 2011 to date.

March 1: Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold - Goes On Display
Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932) has gone on display at London’s Tate Modern. This is the first time in 60 years that it has been on public view. This iconic fine art painting sold last year at Christie's Auction in New York to a private buyer. It fetched $106.5 million which makes it the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. It beat the previous record holder: sculpture Walking Man 1 by Giacometti which 3 months previously fetched $104.3 million. The most expensive painting ever purchased however (outside of auction) is still $140 million reportedly paid by David Martinez in 2006 for No 5 (1948) by Jackson Pollock. Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is one of a series of paintings the artist created depicting his muse at the time Marie-Therese Walter. It is painted in his classic Cubist style and is on display in the new Pablo Picasso room at the Tate Modern.

Jan 1: Irish Arts Council Budget Cut by Only 5 Percent!
Irish art can relax! The Irish Arts Council - Ireland's lead agency for the arts - has been allocated a hefty €65.2m for 2011, which represents no more than a 5 percent cut on 2010 figures. However, whether this will force the Council to eliminate its grants to loony minority "art" groups remains to be seen. The artists' tax exemption has been been capped at €40,000 per annum, down from €125,000, though why someone who (say) creates textile art should receive more generous tax treatment than (say) a trainee tailor, is utterly beyond me.

Art News Headlines 2010

December 6: Tate Britain - Susan Philipsz Wins 2010 Turner Prize
Susan Philipsz, a Glaswegian sound installation artist now living in Berlin has won the prestigious Turner Prize for contemporary art. This is the first time that the prize - one of the best known in the world - has been awarded to a sound artist. Of course, whether a sound recording belongs in a visual arts competition is - to put it mildly - a moot point.

November 12: World Record For Chinese Qianlong Vase
A west London auction house left Sotheby's and Christie's in the shade by selling a 16-inch high Chinese vase for a world record £43 million net. One of the most important examples of Chinese pottery to go on sale this century, the 18th-century Qianlong dynasty porcelain vase was discovered in a house clearance in a suburban home in neighbouring Pinner. In the saleroom it sparked a bidding war between several Chinese buyers and smashed its pre-sales estimate of £800,000 to £1.2 million.

November 11: New York - Warhol's Pop Art is the New Currency
On Monday, Men in Her Life (1962), Andy Warhol's multi-painting of Elizabeth Taylor sold for $63 million at auction house Phillips, de Pury and Company. On Tuesday, Coca-Cola (1962) a black-and-white picture of (you guessed it) a large Coca-cola bottle by the same artist was snapped up for $35 million at Sotheby's. On Wednesday, Big Campbell's Soup Can with Can Opener (1962) also by Warhol went for $24 million. These sales now firmly establish Warhol as the late-20th century counterpart to Pablo Picasso, and come hard on the heels of two other Warhol successes - the reported private sale of Eight Elvises (1963) for $100 million, in 2009; and the auction of Green Burning Car I (1963) for $71.7 million, in 2007.

September 29: Art Now the Most Popular Passion Investment
With the number of global millionaires growing by some 17 percent in 2009, according to a report by Merrill Lynch & Co, and financial markets awash with cash but nowhere safe to invest it, it's no surprise that art has become the most popular type of "passion investment": witness records set by Warhol (Dec 2009), Giacometti (Feb 2010), Picasso (May), and Rubens (July). But is art really a hedge against inflation? Yes, say the experts. A recent publication, "Economics and Politics of Cultural Heritage" (Forte and Mantovani) demonstrated that between 1977 and 1996 the net return on investments in 4 genres was as follows: Expressionist (5.98 percent); Surrealist (5.9 percent); Art Informel (8.9 percent); and Pop Art (11.75 percent). Even so, it's important to be aware that the art market does not publicize its failures, which can affect even the most blue-chip artists. For example, Renoir's Bal au moulin de la Galette (bought for $78 million) was reputedly resold for $50 million. Monet's The Beach at Trouville (1870), was sold at Sotheby's in 2000, for £11m. But, in Sotheby's in 2006 it failed to find a buyer. Rubens' A Portrait of a Man as the God Mars (1620-25), sold at Sotheby's in July 2000 for £4.98m. Reappearing again at Sotheby's in 2002, the work sold for £4.4m, making a loss of half a million pounds. Even matchless works such as Cezanne's Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier and Van Gogh's Irises have re-sold at a loss.

August 6: Who is Popular at Auction?
2010 has proved to be far from dull in the fine art salesrooms. Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) has been confirmed as the highest selling female artist at auction after her Espagnole (1916) sold for £6.4 million, beating her previous record of £5.5 million for Les Fleurs. Her success has been repeated throughout the school of Russian art, as dealers and collectors invest in cheaper artists. Last year's favourites, artists from China and India, are still selling well, but right now Russian painting is in the driving seat. Meantime, Old Masters, always reliable investments in a recession, also continue to do well - witness recent records for Rubens and Rembrandt. The highest selling male artist at auction is now Picasso (with three works in the Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings), followed by Van Gogh (also with three). The recent sale of Eight Elvises (1963) for $100 million, makes Andy Warhol the top-priced American artist. In fact, both Picasso and Warhol have consistently been among the top sellers since 2002.

July 23: The Garima Gospels - Oldest Illuminated Manuscript - Ethiopia
Radiocarbon dating tests conducted recently at the Oxford University Research Laboratory for Archaeology, have dated two volumes of illuminated manuscripts - found in a remote Ethiopian monastery and known as The Garima Gospels - to 390-660 CE. This makes them the oldest Christian illuminated manuscripts ever found. The next oldest gospel manuscripts are the Rabbula Gospels in Syriac, completed in 586 CE and now kept in the Laurentian Library in Florence. The Garima Gospels are a unique work of early religious art and pre-date all other such works from sub-Saharan Africa by more than 500 years. They have never left the monastery, and legend links their creation to the time of Father (Abba) Garima, the founder of the monastery, a native of Constantinople, who arrived in Ethiopia around 494 CE. The 28 pages of illuminations are designed in the early Byzantine style, and - like those in the Rabbula Gospels - were probably created in a Syrian or Jerusalem monastery. The text (written in Ge'ez, the ancient Ethiopian language) seems to have been added after the illuminations were finished.

May 6: Are the Art Markets Bouncing Back?
It's encouraging to see Christie's hosting a world record auction price for Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932) ($106.5 million). And while incorrigible optimists may interpret this as a sign that the recession in the art market is over, realists will say that it merely confirms the value of the Picasso marque, along with the added value which attaches to rarely seen masterpieces. On the other hand, the present environment is surely an excellent time to buy quality art: prices for blue-chip paintings are low, while alternative investments are still volatile. True, sellers remain reticent, with noticeably fewer top quality artworks at Sotheby's and Christie's, but New York auction receipts are significantly up (Sotheby's by 300 percent over 2009) and even if most lots are selling within their heavily reduced pre-sale estimates, interest is slowly beginning to build. What remains unclear, is precisely which sectors of the art market have been worst affected, and which are likely to emerge relatively unscathed. Andy Warhol, the epitome of post-war modernism, whose screenprint Eight Elvises set tongues wagging when it reportedly sold for $100 million by private treaty in 2009, is now a solid member of the mega-seller artist club - as too are the great 19th century painters like Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh.

May 4th: New World Record for Picasso at Christie's
Total sales revenue at Christie's New York Impressionism and Modern Art sale were $336 million, which was near the top end of estimates. Pride of place went to The semi-abstract painting Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932) by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), which was hammered down for $106.5 million, making it the world's most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. The record price narrowly exceeded the $104.5 million paid in February 2010 for the sculpture Walking Man I by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966).

February 3: Sotheby's Achieves World Record Price for Work of Art
L'Homme Qui Marche I (Walking Man) the life-size bronze sculpture cast in 1961 by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-66) sold this evening at Sotheby's in London for a world record price of £65,001,250 ($104,327,006). More than five times higher than its pre-sale estimate of £12m-18m, the price exceeded the $104,168,000 paid for Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe at Sotheby's New York in 2004. Competitive bidding and scarcity of sculptures by Giacometti were key factors in determining the outcome. Other masterpieces hammered down at Sotheby's Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art included Kirche in Cassone by the Viennese Sezessionist painter Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), which sold for £26.9m and the still life Pichet et fruits sur une table by the post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), which went for £11.8m.

February 2: Christie's Auction Boosted By Eastern Bloc Buyers
Bidding from Russian and other East European buyers gave a welcome boost to Christie's Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist Art Evening Sale in London this evening.
Against conventionally realistic pre-sale estimates of $87 – $124 million, total receipts amounted to a healthy $122,167,093. This was some 22 percent higher than figures for last February's auction. Roughly 25 percent of lots went to UK buyers, 25 percent to Americans, 48 percent to Europeans, and only 2 percent to Asians. The highest price, $12,887,348 (estimate. $4.8m - $6.4m) was paid for Tete de femme by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Other top prices included $11,284,628 ($8.8m to $12.1m) for Gitane by the Dutch Fauvist portrait painter Kees van Dongen (1877-1968); and $10,216,148 (estimate: $6.4m– $9.6m) for Espagnole by the Russian modernist Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) - a record auction price for a painting by a female artist. In addition,
Nu aux jambes croisees by the Fauvist leader Henri Matisse (1869-1954) went for $6,031,268 (estimate: $3.9m - $6.3m), while Le baiser by the Belgian classical surrealist painter Rene Magritte (1898-1967) sold for $1,935,428 (estimate: $0.9m - 1.27m).

Some Snippets from Art News Headlines in 2009

December 1: Warhol Print Sells for $100 million
According to the findings of art writer Sarah Thornton in this week's Economist, an unknown buyer has purchased the screenprint Eight Elvises by Andy Warhol for $100 million (£60.5m) in a private sale. If true, it means that the work is the 5th most expensive work of art ever sold.

November 20: Performance Artist Plans Live Epileptic Fit
Next month, 37-year old Rita Marcalo, an award-winning choreographer and long-time epilepsy sufferer, plans to induce a fit as part of an Arts Council-backed project at the Bradford Playhouse, to educate people about epilepsy. The project, entitled "Involuntary Dances" is sponsored to the tune of £13,889 by the British Arts Council. Marcalo is currently performing in Lithuania.

November 18: Performance Artist Jeanne-Claude Dies
Casablanca-born Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, the wife and professional artist-partner of Christo Javacheff has died aged 74, as a result of complications following a fall. Famous, with her husband for large-scale empaquetage art projects such as the mummification of the Pont Neuf, the envelopment of several Miami islands in pink nylon, and the wrapping of the German Reichstag building in aluminium fabric, she met him soon after he arrived in Paris from his native Bulgaria, in 1958. Moving to New York in 1964, the pair began executing some of the 18 high-visibility interventions for which they are now renowned, some of which were featured in six documentary films by Albert Maysles. She is survived by her husband.

Until 23 March: Exhibition of "Nothing" Pompidou Centre, Paris

Nine empty rooms comprises the latest exhibition of contemporary art in Paris. A weird reincarnation of the completely silent piece of "musical" conceptual art entitled "4.33", by the avant-garde composer John Cage (1912-92), the new show at the Pompidou Centre has been acclaimed by at least one art critic as the most radical show ever seen inside a museum. According to Laurent Le Bon, curator of the Pompidou Metz, the project is "at the frontline of artistic venture and history". The actual name of the show - The Specialisation of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilised Pictorial Sensibility - is perfectly in keeping with the mind-boggling lack of reality which it represents.

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