A Rothko record
May 9 2012
Last week, Sotheby's secured the highest auction bid ever for a painting. But last night Christie's retaliated with what is billed as 'the highest ever price for a piece of contemporary art at auction'. Rothko's 1961 Orange, red, yellow [above] made $86.9m. Mind you, is Rothko really 'contemporary' any more?
More details of the Rothko sale here. Bloomberg has a comprehensive round up of the other records achieved on the night (for Jackson Pollock, Yves Klein and Barnett Newman). My Guffwatch entry made $1.1m.
But - how long will the Rothko record last? Today Sotheby's offers a famous Bacon.
Update - a reader writes;
You asked the question "Is Rothko really contemporary anymore?", and I'd like to take up this question. It seems to me that recently (say in the last 5 years) the term 'contemporary art' has come to mean not a temporal classification of art made recently (however you define recent), but to mean 'art that is about now'. Contemporary art is art which does not look forward to the future, as modernism did, or root itself in the past (though some allusion is often unavoidable) but concerns itself with our rapidly changing world. I would still agree that a Rothko is more modern than contemporary, but I do think that a reexamination of the term 'contemporary' is necessary in today's art vocabulary.