Christie’s New York Latin American Art Sale

. May 27, 2008

NEW YORK – Following a record breaking year for the category, Christie’s Latin American Sale will continue the momentum by staging its largest sale yet on May 28-29 in New York, expected to realize in excess of $30 million. With more than 320 paintings and sculptures included in the twoday auction, the sale is particularly strong covering Mexican and Cuban schools, and major artists including, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Fernando Botero, Leonora Carrington, Claudio Bravo, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Mario Carreño and others.

“We are proud to present our most comprehensive and most valuable Latin American Sale to date. With over 145 artists and 14 countries represented, this season features a stellar selection across various categories including colonial, modernist, surrealist and contemporary works of art — many never offered before at auction,” commented Virgilio Garza, Senior Vice President, Head of Latin American.

Leading this season’s sale is Rufino Tamayo’s Trovador (The Troubadour), 1945, an iconic work by the artist combining the ideal subject matter of the guitarist with the artist’s signature brilliant palette and scale (estimate: $2-3 million). Trovador has the potential to break the current world auction record for Tamayo, which was set at Christie’s in 1993 with the 1955 painting, America (Mural).

In the 1946 ARTNews review of Trovador at the Valentine Gallery in New York, the critic placed Tamayo at the height of his powers and hails the work’s “unbelievable color and supreme intensity of focus” and further adds that the magnificent painting “could successfully hang alongside Picasso’s Three Musicians.”

Trovador (The Troubadour) was acquired by the legendary American collector Stephen C. Clarke who gifted it to the present owner 60 years ago. Rarely exhibited and known to the general public only through a black and white illustration in Robert Goldwater’s monograph, Trovador has not been seen in the context of other Tamayo works in more than 40 years.

Painted in 1956, the year before his death, Diego Rivera’s Niño soviético depicts a Soviet boy pulling a sleigh (estimate: $500,000-700,000). Upon his return from a visit to the Soviet Union where he had received medical treatment for cancer, Rivera painted a series of children’s portraits of campesinos and Soviet children. This tender and expressive portrait exudes the warmth and innocence of the young boy, bundled in a hat, mittens and red scarf.

Representing the surrealist school is a highly detailed work by Leonora Carrington, Juggler (El Juglar) (estimate: $600,000-800,000). Painted in 1954 during Carrington’s artistic prime and most desirable period for collectors, this is the first time this painting will be offered on the market. The juggler is a foil for Carrington’s interest in exploring dimensions of reality, as the juggler performs and dazzles its audience, he also blurs the truth. The painting was originally owned by Edward James, an English eccentric who was responsible for bringing Carrington together with gallery owner Pierre Matisse, who organized her first onewoman exhibition. James then left the painting in care of artist Kati Horna.

Two California period paintings by Alfredo Ramos Martínez are highlights in the sale. La india, shows a warm-toned female figure from the neck up with braids framing her face and a basket of lemons framing her forehead (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). The recurring image of the flower bearer is depicted in Vendedora de flores, 1934, although here she is empowered, gazing straight-on at the viewer, carrying the gigantic flowers on her back with steady poise (estimate: $600,000-800,000).

Di Cavalcanti’s Mulheres no cais (Women at the Dock) painted in 1955, shows the artist’s interest in typifying the traditional person born in Rio de Janeiro, known as carioca (estimate: $500,000-700,000). At the forefront of the group workers, a sensual barefoot woman carrying a basket of fish, stands out amongst the crowd through the artist’s attention to color and composition.

Botero is represented in the sale with a monumental bronze sculpture, Donna in Piedi (Standing Woman), executed in 2007 and formerly displayed Milan’s Palazzo Reale (estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000). This grand sculpture of a nude woman twisting her head and arranging her long hair towers at nearly 12 feet high — the largest sculpture by Botero.

Works by the Cuban artist Mario Carreño portray a range of styles throughout his prolific and evolving career representing his neo-classical style (1937- early 1943), organic-geometric (1945- 1952), and finally a synthesis of the both in his late paintings, post 1960. Included in the sale is Fuera del batey, 1943, one of the artists most iconic works showing the struggle of man and nature (estimate: $500,000-700,000); The Promenade, 1947 and shows Carreño’s shift in style and Parisian influence (estimate: $100,000-150,000); and Ausencia del poeta, 1970, is an ephemeral and conceptual, which references Magritte (estimate: $60,000-80,000).

Rounding out the strong selection of Cuban artists featured in the sale are the contemporaries of Mario Carreño, Mariano Rodríguez and Cundo Bermúdez, who together collectively belonged to the literary group Orígenes. Rodrigez’s Juego, 1943, depicts two females wrestling, one flesh colored and the other blue, and is evocative of the artist’s growing concern with expressive color and texture (estimate: $300,000-400,000). Bermúdez’s Columnas is a large scale recent work showing two column-like figures, simplified to block-like forms with no visible limbs, and the only detailed features are the eyes (estimate: $80,000-120,000).

Leading the important works offered by Claudio Bravo is Annunciation, a large scale diptych reflecting the artist’s fascination with spirituality (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). Bravo creates a harmonious conceptual work of intense blue and green expansive fabrics, evoking an ancient classical drapery. Two wrapped package works are offered – which elevate the ordinary objects to both a study of optical play, with precisionist detail, and serve as a preoccupation of minimal abstraction; White and Yellow Package (estimate: $350,000-450,000) and Paquete verde (Green Package) (estimate: $500,000-700,000).

Property from the Collection of Frank and Jayne Fernández includes exciting and fresh to the market works collected during the couple’s time as expatriates in Mexico City, where they quickly established themselves among the social and artistic scenes. Employed by the Eastman Kodak Company, and a photographer himself, Frank exchanged his photographs of the artist’s catalogues and exhibitions, for their art in lieu of payment. Overtime, he became a patron and developed friendships with Juan Soriano and Dr. Atl. A highlight from the collection is Pedro Coronel’s La guerra florida, a large scale and vibrant work portraying the dramatization of the Mesoamerican Aztec world (estimate: $200,000-300,000). Other painters in the collection include Dr. Atl, Juan Soriano, Wolfgang Paalen, and Gunther Gerzso.

Artists who redefined the visual arts in Latin America in the 1960s and 70s, Mathias Goeritz, Sergio Camargo and Jesús Rafael Soto, are also part of this exciting sale.

Category: Auction News

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