May 24, 2022
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A self-portrait by Frida Kahlo, an artist identified for her uncooked emotional depth, offered for $34.9 million at Sotheby’s on Tuesday night time, setting an public sale benchmark for the costliest art work by a Latin American artist.

Accomplished 5 years earlier than her demise in 1954, the oil portray, “Diego and I,” is one among Kahlo’s last self-portraits and an instance of the unsettling intimacy that has attracted collectors to her work. The work affords a window into her turbulent marriage with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who’s depicted in it simply above the artist’s tearful eyes.

In setting a brand new excessive for a Latin American artist at public sale, Kahlo surpassed a benchmark set by Rivera in 2018, when one among his work offered at public sale for $9.76 million — or the equal of $10.75 million as we speak, accounting for inflation.

A Sotheby’s spokesman recognized portray’s purchaser as Eduardo F. Costantini, the founding father of a museum in Buenos Aires. The work was bought for his non-public assortment. The spokesman declined to disclose the identification of the vendor.

The profitable bid for $34.9 million after charges was taken by Anna Di Stasi, Sotheby’s director of Latin American artwork. A giant sale had been assured even earlier than the public sale began as a result of Sotheby’s had accepted each a assure and an irrevocable bid, which means {that a} third celebration had already positioned a bid that it couldn’t withdraw.

Referring to “Diego and I,” Adriana Zavala, who curated a 2015 Kahlo exhibition on the New York Botanical Backyard, mentioned, “This is a vital late work from a interval the place her bodily struggling had intensified and her portray turned erratic.”

Ms. Zavala added, “She seems to be much less polished and poised.”

Kahlo, who was born in 1907 in Mexico Metropolis, started portray in 1926 whereas recovering from a bus accident that had left her with persistent ache. She developed a wealthy iconography concerning the realms of life and demise, mixing violence and vulnerability in ways in which usually shocked viewers by pushing gender norms. She died at 47.

“It’s a museum-quality piece,” Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s chairman and worldwide head of worldwide superb artwork gross sales, mentioned of “Diego and I.” She added that cultural establishments had expressed curiosity within the art work however that demand from non-public collectors had been excessive. “Frida is now on the want listing of collectors who gather nice masterpieces of contemporary artwork.”

The final time “Diego and I” was offered at Sotheby’s was in 1990, when it turned the primary work by a Latin American artist to promote for greater than $1 million. The worth of Kahlo’s work has elevated considerably for the reason that Nineteen Eighties, when one among her portraits offered for $85,000. Some artwork historians attribute the value leap to the more and more restricted availability of her work.

“Frida is changing into one of the crucial standard artists on the planet,” mentioned Gregorio Luke, the previous director of the Museum of Latin American Artwork in California. He defined that Mexican legal guidelines stop most gross sales of distinguished Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century artists, like Kahlo, from throughout the nation. “So the value is the results of huge pent-up curiosity within the artist and little or no stock,” he mentioned. “There are most likely lower than 20 to 30 work of hers available on the market.”

Some admirers watching the public sale regarded Kahlo’s potential to surpass her husband’s document as an indication of the occasions. Typically with married artist {couples}, it’s the girl who’s forgotten, defined Jorge Daniel Veneciano, senior curator on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Artwork in Los Angeles. “When it comes to gender politics, it is a good factor,” Mr. Veneciano mentioned. “Now we’d say that Diego Rivera is the husband of Frida Kahlo, as a result of she is outshining him.”

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