Art in The Week That Was

A selection of creative current affairs and events which have hit the headlines…


‘Nu Couche (Sur La Cote Gauche)’ by Amadeo Modigliani, c. 1917, fetched $157.2 at Sotheby’s New York this week.

‘Nu Couche’ by Modigliani, c. 1917, which fetched $170m at Christies in 2015.

This week’s top story has to be the colossal price achieved at auction for Modiglani’s ‘Nu Couche (sur la cote gauche)’.  The Art Today team were in on the LIVE action as this iconic piece went under the hammer at Sotheby’s New York.  At length, it achieved $157m (£117m) with the bidding having started at a cool $125m.  It is the most expensive painting to have ever sold at Sotheby’s, and the 4th most expensive painting ever to have sold at auction.  It is not to be confused with Modigliani’s other ‘Nu Couche’, from the same series, which fetched an even higher $170.4m (£113m) back in 2015 at Christie’s.  That particular nude has only been beaten by Picasso’s ‘Women of Algiers’ which sold for $179 that same year.

Featuring Modigliani’s classic contemporary characteristics – a pale figure with triangular-shaped head, elongated, abstract eyes which directly engage the viewer, and further triangulated anatomy, ‘Nu Couche (sur la cote gauche)’ has caused controversy since its creation in c. 1917.  Infused with a latent sensuality, this famous piece (along with the other nude works in the artist’s ouvre) served to reinvent the body as an artistic subject in and of itself.  Painting 10 years before Picasso and Matisse, Modigliani’s style – under the patronage of art dealer Leopold Zborowski – was years ahead of its time.  Indeed, the Nus Couches were included in the artist’s first and only exhibition that same year at the Galerie Berthe Weill, but the event was closed down by the police.

For more details on the life and times of Amadeo Modigliani, see our 2016 article here:-

For details on Nick Smith’s ‘Priceless’ exhibition currently at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery, London – exploring our perception of the value of art and such big-ticket paintings – see our interview here:-

One of the 14,000 Scottish photographs purchased this week. Of the £1m purchase price, £350,000 was donated by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In other news, over 14,000 Scottish photographs were brought home to their native country in a £1m acquisition this week.  Photography enthusiast – Murray McKinnon – started the collection of images in the 1980s when he developed a chain of developing stores, his first being his own pharmacy in Dyce (Aberdeen).

Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, stated:

‘The MacKinnon collection is one of the most remarkable collections of Scottish photography and an invaluable resource for researchers, students and the wider public.’.

The collection was purchased in a joint venture by the National Library of Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, the Scottish Government, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund.  It will go on to form a major exhibition next year, curated by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  Fascinating scenes featured in the collection include portraits of Scottish regiments from the Crimean War by Roger Fenton, as well as everyday moments from the 19th and 20th Centuries (shipbuilding, railway construction, herring fishing, textile manufacturing, whisky distilling, working dockyards, slate quarries and other working environments).

Dr John Scally, National Librarian, commented:-

‘I am confident that every Scot will feel a connection with these wonderful photographs and we look forward to sharing them with the public over the coming months.’.


Recently, Myanmar’s New Year Water Festival (Thingyan 2018) took place across the world.  Myanmar’s own particular version could be observed in downtown Yangon, with much water splashing, water fights and dowsing occurring amongst street food stalls and performance artists.  This year corporations and commercial enterprises were allowed to apply for ‘pavilion permits’ to sell their wares at the festival.  (In previous years, only the 4 government pavilions were permitted.).  The ideology behind the festival is to wash away the previous year and welcome a new, clean slate.

Colour Runs have become a popular charity fundraising festival, with many cities putting their own particular slant on the occasion.  Paris staged its own version recently, sponsored by cosmetics chain Sephora.  Featuring stage acts and festival provision, as well as the actual sports contest itself, the event resembled Glastonbury much more than the London Marathon.  It proved exceptionally popular with all walks of life – attracting over 20,000 participants – and has become a festival to see and be seen at.  The throwing of coloured powder emanates from the Hindu Holi Festival tradition where participants toss brightly-hued paint powder into the air to celebrate the coming of Spring.


Royal Wedding fever gripped the UK – and the rest of the world – as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) tied the knot at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.  Art Today were fortunate enough to be in on the action and reported LIVE on this very special event.  See our article here:-

Royal Wedding Fashion in Pictures

Even though the event is now over, there are still fascinating fashion stories emanating from guests, participants and onlookers.  It has been recognised that Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is the first royal to get married sporting a beard for over 125 years – and needed the Queen’s permission to do so.  The last to keep their beard for the ceremony was The Queen’s grandfather, George V, when he married Princess Mary of Teck in 1893.

The Duchess’s spectacular tiara was gifted to her by The Queen and was, according to the Kensington Palace press release:-

Meghan chose the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau Tiara from The Queen’s jewellery collection to wear on her wedding day to Prince Harry.  The centre brooch featuring 10 diamonds has previously been set with a large sapphire.  Hot favourites to hold her 16ft veil in place were the Spencer, Strathmore Rose, and Lotus Flower tiaras.

‘Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara… The diamond bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the entre brooch dating from 1893.’

Since the wedding, tiara protocols that Meghan needed to observe have been discussed in detail.  Apparently, brides shouldn’t actually wear tiaras until they are officially married, but that rule has been flexed slightly to include the marriage ceremony itself.  The Duchess of Cambridge also wore her Cartier Halo Scroll tiara throughout her marriage ceremony to Prince William on 29th April 2011.

Priyanka Chopra in her nude, sequinned, Dior evening dress ready for the Reception hosted by Prince Charles at Frogmore House.  The actress has caused furore in some quarters for not choosing a traditional Indian sari.

Wedding guest Priyanka Chopra has been widely-tipped to be the best dressed invitee throughout the whole event.  For the ceremony itself, she opted for a pale lavender skirt suit with matching sculptural hat, while for the evening reception at Frogmore House, she chose a nude, sequinned Dior number that lit up social media like a storm.


Meanwhile, at the Billboard Music Awards, singers Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato took the crown and social media by storm with their rendition of ‘Fall In Line’.  Their stunning performance and powerful vocals astonished the audience and critics alike.  BMA organisers have stated that the rendition will appear on Aguilera’s ‘highly-anticipated’ studio album, ‘Liberation’.  Demonstrating their absolute diva vocal prowess as they vocally duelled to the delight of the throng, the pair achieved a rousing standing ovation as well as a feminist hit.  According to one Twitter-user, they served ‘fire and soul’, whilst another labelled the song ‘an empowering anthem‘.  

See the performance here:-


Scientists conducing routine analysis off the East Coast of Australia have discovered a 128-year-old shipwreck.  Mapping the sea floor of the Bass Strait, the scientists noticed a ‘blip’ that they intuitively realised must be a shipwreck.  Upon investigation using a drop camera, they realised it was the wreck of the Carlisle which sank in the area in 1890.  The crew of 23 thankfully survived.  Surprisingly, the group’s findings also yielded the wreck of another vessel (HMAS Pioneer) which was built for the British Royal Navy in 1900, but scuttled in 1931.


Burberry’s iconic check pattern has graced both clothing and accessories alike for the last century. Its popularity tempts other manufacturers to create very similar products.

Burberry  have been involved in fierce litigation again this week to prevent yet another textile manufacturer allegedly copying their trademark check.  This time it was Target who was in the firing line, whilst previously J.C. Penney and Body Glove have received Cease and Desist orders.  In this instance, Burberry, who proved that they issued Target with a Cease and Desist last year, are seeking an injunction barring Target from selling certain check-pattern products, destroying goods and recompense of $2m for damages plus court costs.  Burberry say they introduced their singular checked pattern in the 1920s, and that…

‘… although Target’s copycat scarves are of inferior quality, they are superficially indistinguishable from genuine Burberry scarves.’.

Whilst Target allegedly hope to:-

‘…address the matter in a reasonable manner…’.

The case continues.


[Credits:  Feature Image – ‘Nu Couche (sur la cote gauche)’ by Modigliani (;;;;; Black Rabbit (youtube);;;; Facebook – @TheColourRunFrance;;;;; Mental Floss (Emily Petsko); Instagram/@Burberry;; Images of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex taken by Frida]


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