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A painting by avant-garde Russian artist Kazimir Malevich
A painting by avant-garde Russian artist Kazimir Malevich sold for a record-price of just over $60 million at an auction in New York despite gloom over the global financial crisis.

The 1916 "Suprematist Composition," which had been displayed in Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum before being returned to the artist's family, was sold to an unnamed buyer at Sotherby's on Monday evening. The price is the highest ever paid for a Russian painting at auction.

However, 25 out of 70 paintings up for sale failed to sell, amid fears that the art market is facing a downturn, with total sales for the evening reaching $223.8 million lower than the pre-sale estimate of $337- $475 million.

"Suprematist Composition" made its debut at a 1919-20 exhibition in Moscow. In 1927, Malevich accompanied the picture to exhibitions in Warsaw and Berlin, introducing Europe to the aesthetic he had devised. In June the same year, he left Germany for the Soviet Union, leaving his paintings behind.

Malevich was prevented from leaving the Soviet Union again and could not return to Berlin. The "Suprematist Composition" eventually ended up in the Stedelijk. The painting was returned to Malevich's heirs after years of legal wrangling.

Malevich, who was born in Ukraine to Polish parents and studied art in Kiev and Moscow, experimented with various modernist styles, including Cubism and Futurism. He is best known for his works "Black Square" (1915) and "Black Cross" (1916-1917), renowned for their previously unseen geometrical simplicity.

Malevich eventually abandoned all reference to figuration in favor of colored geometric shapes and described that style of art in a treatise known as the "Suprematist Manifesto." He died in 1935.


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