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Clyfford Still works sold for $114M to fund museum

A work by abstract artist Clyfford Still being sold to fund a museum in his name fetched an artist's record of $61.7 million US at auction Wednesday in New York.

Record $61.7M US for single abstract work by artist

A woman looks at 1949-A-No.1, left, and 1947-Y-No.2, right, two of the four Clyfford Still paintings sold by Sotheby's in New York to fund a museum in his name. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

A work by abstract artist Clyfford Still being sold to fund a museum in his name fetched an artist's record of $61.7 million US  at auction Wednesday in New York.

His painting 1949-A-No 1, featuring white splashes over red and white, was one of four works by the reclusive U.S. artist on offer at Sotheby’s sale of contemporary art.

The four pieces, including 1947-Y-No 2, raised a total of $114 million for Denver's Clyfford Still museum. The previous record for a Still was $21.3 million, set in 2006.

A leading figure in abstract expressionism, Still was a contemporary of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. He died in 1980, leaving most of his work to a museum in his name and closing off access to both collectors and scholars until that museum should open.

That museum, to open in Denver in a week’s time, sold off the four works to help pay the cost of the new building. Denver agreed to host the museum in 2004.

The New York art sales have recovered from a laggard beginning, with the Sotheby’s sale of contemporary art raising $315.8 million.

"The sale blew every expectation away," said Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art.

Christie's New York achieved a sale total of $247.6 million at its contemporary art auction.

Other notable sales this week:

  • $20.8 million for the Gerhard Richter abstract 849-3.
  • $19.7 million for Three Studies for a Self-Portrait by British artist Francis Bacon.
  • $43 million for And There’s Nobody In It by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

 

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