Saturday, May 5, 2012

'The Scream' sold for nearly $120 million

A pastel version of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch fetched nearly $120million from an anonymous buyer Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York, setting a new world record for a work of art sold at auction.
Experts had expected the masterpiece to break new ground at the famed New York auction house; its presale estimate of at least $80 million was the highest ever listed at Sotheby's.
It sold for $119,922,500, which includes the premium paid to Sotheby's.
Previously, the most expensive artwork ever sold there was Pablo Picasso's painting "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," which brought in $106.5 million two years ago. The previous record for a Munch work of art was just over $38 million.

The version of "The Scream" on the block Wednesday was one of four -- two pastels and two paintings -- executed between 1893 and 1910, Sotheby's said, and is one of the best-known images in modern art.
It's also the only version a private collector can get their hands on at public auction. The other three are housed in National Gallery of Norway and at the Munch Museum in the Norwegian capital, according to Sotheby's.
Munch also created a lithograph of "The Scream" in 1895, the same year he executed the pastel auctioned on Wednesday.
Munch's use of color, art historians say, is a distinguishing characteristic of this version. The pastel-on-board also remains in its original frame.
Dubbed "the portrait of a soul" and "the face that launched 1,000 therapists," "The Scream" depicts a distorted human figure -- hands flat against its sunken face, eyes and mouth wide open -- in the foreground of a nightmarish landscape.
The pastel is being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father is thought to have been a friend and patron of the famed artist.
"I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood," Munch wrote, describing how the idea for the painting came about. "I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature."
Few pieces have crossed the $100 million benchmark at public auction, said Sotheby's spokesman David Norman.
"The Scream has really entered the collective conscience, whatever nationality, whatever country, whatever attitude or age, it really sort of speaks to that sort of existential terror that everyone experiences in the world," Norman said.

Boy, 13, finds mistake on Metropolitan Museum of Art map (of the Byzantine Empire)

The Connecticut art history buff spotted an error in an exhibit no one else had noticed

Benjamin said he was surprised that the museum readily admitted making a mistake, and he said the process taught him a valuable lesson. "If you have a question, always ask it," he said. "Always take chances."
Every so often, a visitor at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City questions the accuracy of an exhibit, but Helen Evans, one of the museum's curators, says not all of them are right.
Benjamin Lerman Coady, however, was.
Benjamin, 13, of West Hartford, is a seventh-grader at Renbrook School. Fascinated by history, he reads ahead in his textbooks. His mother sees his passion for the past and tries to provide an environment where Benjamin feels free to explore his interests.
That's how mother and son ended up at The Metropolitan Museum of Art last summer.

"It's more a parent seeing the world through a child's eyes," said Benjamin's mother, Joanne Lerman.
Benjamin wasn't quite sure what to expect at the art museum. He and his mother had visited the American Museum of Natural History a few times, but the Metropolitan was a new experience. Benjamin said he thought he'd see "just art on a wall."
He said he quickly learned that The Metropolitan is about more than just paintings — it's also about history.
While touring the museum, Benjamin and his mother stopped to look at the permanent exhibit about the Byzantine Empire — a part of history Benjamin had just studied in school.

A map of the empire in the 6th century was on display, and Benjamin said he immediately began to check the dates. The map was supposed to show when the empire was at its largest, but Spain and part of Africa were missing, he said.
Benjamin told a museum docent about his observation, who instructed him to fill out a form at the front desk.
"The front desk didn't believe me," he said, explaining that he never expected to hear back from the museum. "I'm only a kid."
In September, he received a letter from the museum's senior vice president for external affairs. It said that his comments were being forwarded to the museum's medieval art department for further review.

A few months later — in January, Evans, the museum's Mary and Michael Jaharis curator for Byzantine art, sent Benjamin an email: "You are, of course, correct about the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire under Justinian," she wrote.
She invited Benjamin back to the museum to meet with her.
Benjamin said he was surprised that the museum readily admitted making a mistake, and he said the process taught him a valuable lesson.
"If you have a question, always ask it," he said. "Always take chances."
As for the error, Evans said this week that the museum is still working to fix it.

At museumThe error was probably made when the map was reprinted a few years ago, and the museum is trying to decide whether it should now display more than one map reflecting the empire's history, she said. It takes a while to create a new map because it involves working with a mapmaker, Evans explained.
Benjamin met Evans at the museum in February, bringing her a gift — notepads from Renbrook School.
In return, Evans showed him around the museum, gave him a sneak preview of a new exhibit and discussed the Byzantine Empire. She also asked him to draw his own version of what the map at the museum should look like — a task he is still working on.
Dr. Helen Evans, the museum's curator for Byzantine art, has asked Benjamin Lerman Coady to draw his own version of what the map at the museum should look like — a task he is still working on.