Nude Painting of Bea Arthur Sells for $1.9 Million at Auction
How much would you pay for a nude painting of "Golden Girls" star Bea Arthur?
It really doesn’t matter because some lucky person, who remains anonymous, just bought the piece of art for $1.9 million at Christie’s auction house this week.
The controversial artist John Currin painted "Bea Arthur Naked" in 1991 and as the title suggests, the painting shows the popular golden girl completely naked. As the New York Post reports, this is just one of the many paintings created by Currin, including one of Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer, that features well respected or iconic women.
"It’s historically significant - it’s radical to sexualize someone people think of as asexual," Christie’s spokesman Koji Inoue told the newspaper. "The painting has a visual toughness to it - but it’s also fun."
The painting was expected to sell between $1.8 and $2.5 million.
When "Bea Arthur Naked" was first shown in 1991, critics slammed Currin and labeled the work misogynist. As the Post notes, some art critics went so far as to urge art lovers to boycott a show of Currin’s work in the early 90s. On the opposite side of the critical spectrum, others at the time, felt the piece was actually a feminist statement about confidence and age. The New Yorker called Currin’s work "acrid fantasy portraits of menopausal woman." As time is often a judge, the satiric painter is now well regarded and his work is featured as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s collection.