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Christie's sets a new world auction record for a painting by Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper (1882-1967), East Wind over Weehawken, 1934. Oil on canvas; 34 x 50 1/4 in. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art.
NEW YORK, NY.- On December 5, Edward Hopper’s East Wind Over Weehawken sold for $40,485,000 (₤24,695,850 / €29,554,050) in Christie’s sale of American Art in New York. The painting is an iconic 1934 streetscape of a New Jersey suburb, which hails from the prestigious collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). The work was created shortly after Hopper’s fall 1933 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at a pivotal moment in the artist’s career. Seeking to capture the realities of Depression-era America, the work is permeated by a sense of melancholy and loneliness, underscored by the gray sky and brooding colors of the buildings. This, combined with the sense of suspended narrative, is what differentiated Hopper from his contemporaries. As announced by PAFA, proceeds from the sale of East Wind Over Weehawken will be used to support the creation of a new fund for the purchase of artworks to expand the renowned collection of the museum and school.

PAFA first acquired a major artwork through purchase in 1816, when it bought Washington Allston's painting The Dead Man Restored to Life by Touching the Bones of the Prophet Elisha (1811-13). For the next century and a half, the Museum actively continued to build its collection through purchases, buying works by the School's most celebrated teacher, Thomas Eakins, as well as artists including George Bellows, Lee Bontecou, Alexander Calder, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Stuart Davis, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, Isamu Noguchi, Horace Pippin, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Henry O. Tanner and Benjamin West. In many cases these works were purchased after being shown in the Museum's prestigious Annual Exhibition.

Over the past ten years, the Museum has been increasing its commitment to contemporary art, acquiring works by artists who range from the emerging and mid-career (Kehinde Wiley, Njideka Akunyili, Hope Gangloff) to the world-renowned (Bill Viola, Claes Oldenburg). The establishment of the endowment will dramatically and permanently increase the Museum's ability to collect contemporary art.

In recent seasons, prices for Hopper’s paintings have soared at auction, driven by renewed demand for masterpiece-quality works. In May 2013, Blackwell’s Island sold for $19,163,750, the highest price achieved for the artist at Christie’s at the time and, as was recently announced, the work will soon join the permanent collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. In the same sale, Hopper’s Kelly Jenness House achieved $4.1 million, a world auction record for a work on paper by the artist. The previous season, in November of 2012, October on Cape Cod sold via Christie’s LIVE™ for $9.6 million, setting the world record for an item sold online at any international auction house.

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