A painting by Frida Kahlo has set a new world record price at auction in New York.
Her 1939 painting ‘Dos desnudos en el bosque’ (Two Nudes in a Forest) sold for $8,000,500, the highest price ever paid for a work by the iconic Mexican artist.
It was one of the standout lots in the Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, which also featured important works by the likes of Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and Georges Braques.
The work was described as "a dream-like love scene painted with meticulous loyalty to concrete realities of texture, color, shape, and light". The two female figures in the work are believed to allude to Kahlo’s open bisexuality and identity
It was painted at perhaps the high point of Kahlo’s career, during the brief period in which she held her first solo exhibitions in New York and Paris, and saw her painting ‘The Frame’ become the first work by a 20th century Mexican artist to be acquired by the Louvre.
However, it was also a turbulent low period in Kahlo’s personal life, during which she allegedly had an affair with Leon Trotsky, then divorced her husband, fellow artist Diego Rivera, for having an affair with her own sister (before remarrying him a year later in 1940).
Kahlo presented the painting as a gift to Dolores del Río, the celebrated Mexican and American actress who was a close friend and patron of both her and Rivera, and later sold at Christie’s in November 1989 for $506,000.
The previous auction record for a work by Kahlo was set in 2006 when her 1943 painting ‘Roots’ sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $5.6 million.
Elsewhere the Christie’s auction included one of Claude Monet’s famous water lilies paintings, which lead the sale at $27,045,000; the Amedeo Modigliani portrait ‘Jeune femme à la rose (Margherita)’, which sold for $12,765,000; and Georges Braque’s ‘Mandoline à la partition (Le Banjo)’ which sold for $10,245,000.
In total, the auction realized $141.53 million.