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Roy Lichtenstein canvas pops $43 million auction record

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 9, 2011 - 19:03

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A 1961 painting by the late Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein, entitled “I Can See the Whole Room! ... and There’s Nobody in It!” (AP-Yonhap News) A 1961 painting by the late Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein, entitled “I Can See the Whole Room! ... and There’s Nobody in It!” (AP-Yonhap News)
NEW YORK (AFP) ― A Pop Art canvas by Roy Lichtenstein, “I Can See the Whole Room! ... and There’s Nobody in It!,” popped previous world records for the landmark contemporary artist when it sold for $43.2 million in New York on Tuesday.

The sale at Christie’s beat the artist’s previous auction record of $42.6 million and led a strong performance for contemporary works.

“I Can See the Whole Room! ...” was executed in 1961 with oil and graphite in Lichtenstein’s familiar cartoon style, depicting a stern male face peering out from the canvas into a peephole and featuring the work’s title in a speech bubble.

Bidding started at a heated pace for the star of the evening sale in Manhattan, opening at $27 million and hitting $34 million within 15 seconds, before slowing down.

Other big sellers included a 1956 oil work by Mark Rothko, “White Cloud,” for $18.6 million, and an enormous bronze sculpture of a spider ― so big that it was exhibited outside Christie’s on the sidewalk ― for $10.7 million.

An Andy Warhol titled “Silver Liz” sold for $16.3 million, at the low end of the presale estimate, and very much “a bargain,” according to one Christie’s official.

Not every work sold. Notable flops included Francis Bacon’s “Study of a Man Talking,” which was predicted to sell for between $12-$18 million, but found no buyers.

Christie’s described the Lichtenstein painting as a “seminal museum-quality work, which has been unseen on the market” since 1988.

“This picture has been exhibited and published widely, in part because it so perfectly encapsulates the wisdom and wit of Lichtenstein’s greatest works, investigating the concepts and processes of painting through the use of popular imagery.”

On Wednesday, rival Sotheby’s holds its own contemporary evening sale.