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Rothko painting sets record; Canadian Jeff Wall's photo a big hit

Jeff Wall’s Dead Troops Talk (a vision after an ambush of a Red Army Patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986).

A brightly hued oil painting by Mark Rothko sold for nearly $86.9-million (U.S.) at a New York auction Tuesday night, setting a world record for any work of contemporary art.

Orange, Red, Yellow, a series of rectangles over a crimson background, sold for $86,882,500, according to Christie's auction house.

At the same auction, a photograph by Canadian artist Jeff Wall fetched more than $3.6-million, a record for the artist and nearly twice the piece's estimated sale price.

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The staged image, called Dead Troops Talk, depicts bloodied and dismembered soldiers from Russia's Red Army conversing on the side of a rocky hill. Christie's called the work a "monumental, glowing image," that shows soldiers reacting in a range of ways to their own deaths.

It sold for $3,666,500 on Tuesday evening, according to Christie's. Before the auction, Christie's had estimated it would sell for $1.5-million to $2-million.

The photograph, which used actors in 1992, is among Mr. Wall's most recognizable works. Its complete title is Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986).

Mr. Wall studied art history at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and his work has been shown in New York's Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Art, among other galleries. He was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2007.

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Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

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