Welcome to the Artnet Nude 100, a listing of the top 100 nudes sold at auction worldwide in the past 12 years as determined by Artnet's unique auction database. We present here a revised and updated version of the original Artnet Nude 100, done in the summer of 1997.
Our methodology was straightforward. We ranked the 2 million art works in our database by price, and then selected the nudes from the list. All the usual suspects are there: Picasso, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne -- even de Kooning.
Our purpose is more complex. Why compile the Artnet Nude 100? Because we never heard of anyone hiding a stack of still-life pictures under their mattress! More seriously, we wanted to begin an investigation into the populist roots of fine art in America -- that is to say, not in the salon but in the saloon. The Artnet Nude 100 is democratic undertaking, designed for the art tourist. It's an unalloyed pitch for hits.
Finally, we should note that, despite the changes in the contemporary art world wrought since the 1960s by the feminist revolution, the art market remains -- at least at the high end -- a resolutely patriarchal place. (Readers are encouraged to develop this theme at length on their own; we will not do so here.) At this atavistic level, it seems, the practice of art involves a male artist looking and a female model on display. Quaint though such a picture may be, we still say that portrayal of the nude can approach the sublime. And we hope that this traditional frame can be made to fit the issues of gender psychology that animate so much art practice today.
As is probably the case in the art market overall, Picasso is the winner, hands down, taking the top four places. The number one spot is occupied by Picasso's 1932 Nu au fauteuil noir, sold just the other day at Christie's New York. Needless to say, this image is not your typical pin-up -- though it is widely considered to be a consummately romantic picture despite its modernistic distortions. Note that the painting is from the same period as the previous Artnet Nude 100 record holder, Picasso's Le miroir -- which sold two years ago for almost $20 million less. A total of 25 paintings by Picasso are in the top 100, almost double the number of works by the runner-up -- 13 by Renoir.
The price (with premium) of the top 100 is $598,352,196. Although the list includes 100 works, only 33 artists are represented.
The ArtNet Nude 100
arranged according to price
(click on title to view image and auction results)