Picture Of Wealth: Man Ray Portrait Is Most Expensive Photograph Ever After Selling For $12.4 Million - Arts & Culture

This picture is worth more than a thousand words.

American visual artist Man Ray’s best-known portrait “Le Violon d’Ingres” is now the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction after fetching a record $12.41 million.

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The photograph is the top lot of the recent Christie’s sale “The Surrealist World of Rosalind Gersten Jacobs & Melvin Jacobs” at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza.

Christie’s originally estimated it only between $5 million to $7 million. Aside from exceeding expectations, Man Ray’s picture is nearly four times as much as his previously highest-selling photograph at just $3.1 million.

In fact, it nearly tripled the value of the previous record-holder for the most expensive photograph. This was German artist Andreas Gursky’s “Rhein II,” which sold for $4.33 million at a Christie’s auction in 2011.

Dated 1924, “Le Violon d’Ingres” features a nude female figure wearing a turban. Two f-holes painted on her back cause her natural curves to resemble a violin.

Surrealist wave

“Long seen as an icon of 20th-century art, this purely photographic work is truly unrivaled, and, appearing on the market for the very first time in its history, has now smashed all records for any photographic piece at auction, vintage or contemporary, as well as all Man Ray auction records in any medium,” Christie’s international head of photographs Darius Himes said.

The photography expert explained that surrealism as an artistic movement has now entered the public consciousness. He added that no work is a better example of this resurgence than “Le Violon d’Ingres.”

“And why not? Man Ray, and this piece, in particular, stands comfortably within the pantheon of other giants of 20th-century art,” Himes said.

A pioneer of Surrealist photography, Man Ray gained attention for his avant-garde work in the 20th century.

Banner Photo via Christie’s website

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