What makes this painting worth 802,000 Euros?

contempaclindner-smallRichard Lindner (1901 – 1978), “Stranger No. 1,” 1958. Oil on canvas, 50 x 30 inches. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 600,000 – 800,000 Euros. Sold for 802,000 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak

I was all set to slam that someone had paid 802,600 Euros — just over Artcurial’s pre-sale estimate of 600,000 – 800, 000 at its December 6 post-war and contemporary art auction in Paris — for Richard Lindner’s 1958 “Stranger No. 1,” (I even had my headline: “Is the art market crazy, or am I clueless?”) The hodge-podge style, which bears traces of German Expressionism and hints at Pop Art things to come, seems to dilute both. Inspired by various schools, Lindner — a Hamburg-born illustrator who only really began painting at the age of 49, producing just 120 tableaux over 28 years — at first appeared in this painting to be a master of none. But then I took a closer look at the hi-res jpeg sent to me by the kindly Artcurial stagiare (intern) before reducing the file, and discovered 100 years of art history contained in one 50 x 30 inch oil painting.
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