Sothebys sale of Latin American Art, November 20 and 21

. October 29, 2007 – New York – On the evening of November 20 and morning of November 21, 2007, Sotheby’s will offer an impressive selection of Latin American Art, highlighted by the triptych painting, Et At It (lot 15, est. $2.5/3.5 million), by the Chilean artist Matta, from 1944, a pivotal point in the artist’s career, when Matta along with several other European Surrealist artists were living in exile in New York during the Second World War.

Additionally, the sale will feature several important works by Rufino Tamayo, Fernando Botero and Remedios Varo, as well as paintings and sculptures by many other prominent Latin American artists. Tamayo’s work Tres Personages, 1970
(lot 21, est. $750,000/1 million), was stolen twenty years ago from a storage warehouse in Houston and fortuitously recovered years later by New Yorker Elizabeth Gibson, who found the painting abandoned on a Manhattan sidewalk (Please see separate press release).

The approximately 290 lots are estimated to sell for $21,609,000/28,570,000* and will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s 10th floor galleries from November 17 through November 20. Matta was an important link between the Surrealists and the members of the burgeoning New York School. His work Et At It, featured on page 1 (lot 15, est. $2.5/3.5 million), is closely related to the painting, The Vertigo of Eros, at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA). In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Matta had produced his “inscapes,” or imaginary landscapes, that he envisioned as projections of psychological states. Et At It also refers back to the erotic themes of Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass, a work Matta was well acquainted with and which was placed on view at MoMA in 1943, where it was seen by the public for the first time since its debut at the Brooklyn Museum in 1926. Et At It represents a breakthrough for the artist, as it was here that Matta found and mastered the means to transmit his much sought after effect of perpetual transformation.

The former director and curator of MoMA, William Rubin, championed Matta’s work and was instrumental in placing this work in the collection of Richard S. Zeisler. This work is designated as Property from the Estate of Richard S. Zeisler, to provide funds for the acquisition of art by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Sale highlights will also include Déjeuner sur L’Herbe, a historic work by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, 1969 (lot 8, est. $1.4/1.6 million, pictured at left), after the famous painting from 1863 by Édouard Manet. Déjeuner sur l’Herbe was the first work by Botero to command over $1 million at auction, when it was sold for $1,045,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 1991. Manet’s work is widely considered one of the most radical paintings in the history of modern art, and Botero’s own playful, yet thoughtful reinterpretation of Manet’s infamous painting reveals similar concerns, while pushing the boundaries
further, most notably by reversing the traditional gender roles and depicting a male nude with a fully clothed woman.

Among the other works by Botero offered in this sale is a still-life, The Copyist, from 1974 (lot 23, est. $700/900,000), a reflective take on one of Botero’s recurring themes. The aforementioned rediscovered work, Tres Personajes, 1970, by Rufino Tamayo (lot 21, est. $750,000/1 million, pictured at left, please see separate release) was featured on the cover of the Emily Genauer book, Rufino Tamayo, the most important monograph in English about the artist. The painting beautifully captures the artist’s mature style and demonstrates his technical mastery of color and the textural possibilities of pigment and sand, a technique he pioneered in his painted works. Among the other works by Tamayo being offered is an early work, the powerfully intense psychological portrait, Bodégon con Mujer, 1928 (lot 24, est. $250/300,000). Two key figures in Mexico’s contribution to the history of Surrealism, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, are each represented with important works. Leonora Carrington’s El Baño, 1957 (lot 12, est. $300/350,000), is a whimsical work that provides us with much insight into the artist’s creative process and her unparalleled ability to transform the mundane into the marvelous. Remedios Varo’s Au Bonheur des Dames, 1956 (lot 10, est. $600/800,000, pictured at right) is loosely based on the 19th century novel of the same title by Emil Zola. In this mature work, Varo creates a fantastical world of hybrid female creatures or homo rodans who possess human characteristics along with inanimate or mechanized body parts, such as
wheels in place of legs. These hybrid creatures glide about propelled by their own self-sufficient systems of locomotion, stopping briefly only to shop at the stylish Bonheur des Dames to replenish old or worn body parts. The magical yet somewhat disturbing scene recalls the Surrealists’ penchant for recreating aspects of the inner psyche or world of dreams.

The sale will also include two light onyx sculptures by the Costa Rican/Mexican artist Francisco Zúñiga: Seated Woman, 1966, Property from the Larry and Leah Superstein Collection (lot 16, est. $150/200,000) and Desnudo Agachado de Silva, 1968 (lot 61, est. $150/200,000). The sale will also feature a rare selection of works relating to the heroic life and legacy of the great Liberator of the Americas, Simón Bolívar, including a wonderful series of 10 Sketches for the Opera Bolívar, c. 1950, by the French modern artist Fernand Léger (lot 30, est. $150/200,000) and a study for a monument, Equestrian Statue of General Simón Bolívar, 1914 (lot 27, est. $80/100,000) by Emile Antoine Bourdelle. Armando Reverón’s Paisaje de Macuto (lot 35, est. $400/600,000, pictured below), oil and tempura on burlap, epitomizes the artist’s work from the 1930s and his desire to represent the visual and atmospheric effects of light on the landscape. Reverón was the most important modernist painter of the late 19th and early 20th century in Venezuela. Paisaje de Macuto belonged to American collector, Edward “Slim” Boylan, who purchased it in the early 1940’s directly from the artist. The painting was first exhibited in Reverón’s 1955 retrospective at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas. The post-war and contemporary art offerings in this sale include an important selection of works by Venezuela’s key geometric and kinetic artists. A great sculptural work, Escritura Fuerte Azul y Negra, from 1980 (lot 46, est. $150/200,000) by Jesús Rafael Soto, one of the most important
members of the Kinetic movement, as well as another work by Soto, Total Tes Blancas (lot 52, est. $250/350,000, pictured below), 1978, composed of painted wood with metal wires, will be offered.

A rare and early work by Alejandro Otero, Ortogonal, oil on wood, circa 1951-52 (lot 44, est. $50/70,000), reveals the conceptual musings that would eventually lead to his well known series of Colorritmos. Examples of more recent art include Panera (Breadbox) from 2004 (lot 57, est. $35/45,000), a sculpture constructed of maple wood by Los Carpinteros: the Cuban collective which included Dagoberto Ródriguez and Marcos Castillo, known for their hybrid drawings and objects that blur the boundaries between art and craft and furniture and architecture. Guillermo Kuitca’s Idea de una Pasión (lot 54, est. $150/200,000) from 1990 is another highlight from the contemporary offering in this sale of Latin American Art. Kuitca, an Argentine artist selected to represent his country’s national pavilion this past summer at the Venice Biennial, is known for his large-scale paintings typically based on maps, architectural plans and diagrams of institutional structures intended to assert a sense of place and location while eerily echoing notions of displacement and uprootedness.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium.

Category: Auction News

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