At the end of a season that saw two of the world's leading Auction Houses, Christie's and Sotheby's, competing from New York for the sceptre of million-dollar hammer prices for masterpieces still in private hands by Cézanne, Seurat, Mondrian or de Kooning - from the Paul Allen Collection and the David Solinger Collection respectively - this week saw two significant sales on European side.
A rare self-portrait by Max Beckmann (1884-1950), 'Self-Portrait Yellow-Pink' from 1943, fetched EUR 23.225.000 (including commissions) yesterday at Grisebach Auction House in Berlin, breaking the record for a work of art sold at auction in Germany.
The painting, unique in its composition and choice of colours, was gifted by the artist to his wife while the couple - who fled Nazi Germany when Beckmann's art was marked as degenerate - were in exile in Amsterdam, waiting to obtain a visa for the United States, which wouldn't come until 1947.
The years Beckmann spent in Amsterdam, despite the increasingly difficult living conditions due to the Nazi occupation, constituted one of the most prolific periods for the artist, during which his painting, particularly his self-portraits, helped him to find solace, dignity and strength.
Beckmann wrote in his diary: 'Silent death and conflagration all around me, yet I still live'.
Max Beckmann, Self-Portrait Yellow-Pink, 1943. Oil on canvas, 94,5x56 cm. Courtesy: Grisebach
From Berlin we move to Vienna: on Wednesday November 30 at Dorotheum a 1988 vinyl on canvas signed Carla Accardi (1924-2014) sold for 303.000 EUR, exceeding the low estimate of 50.000 EUR by more than five times, and setting a new record for the Italian avant-garde artist.
Carla Accardi, Animale immaginario, 1988. Vinyl on canvas, 100x150 cm. Courtesy: Dorotheum