Sotheby’s Auction Latin American Painting and Sculpture on May 25 & 26

Sotheby’s sale of Latin American Art in New York on 25 and 26 May 2011 will showcase a range of Latin American painting and sculpture from the continents’ most important artists including exceptional works that are fresh to the market and in some cases have been recently re-discovered. Major works by Wilfredo Lam, Leonora Carrington, Roberto Matta, Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Alejandro Otero, Sergio Carmagio and a number of younger artists will be featured in the sale. The first session takes place on the same evening as the sales A Discerning Eye: Latin American Masterpieces from A Private Collection and Fernando Botero: A Celebration. The pre-sale exhibition opens on Saturday 21 May.

Fourteenth Street (Business Town) by Joaquín Torres-Gar?ia appears on the front cover of the sale catalogue (est. $150/200,000). The artist is revered as one of the fathers of abstraction in Latin American art and is widely known as a member of the Cercle et le Carré movement in Paris with Piet Mondrian. However, he also produced a number of important works during his early New York period which were often exhibited with Stuart Davis and other members of the American avant-garde. Fourteenth Street (Business Town) portrays a busy Manhattan street and appeared on the cover of the exhibition catalogue for the show Nexus New York: Latin/American Artists in the Modern Metropolis at Museo del Barrio in 2009.

Desnudo by Armando Reverón is a hauntingly beautiful piece from near the end of the artist’s career (est. $125/175,000). It comes from a short but important series of nudes painted by the artist. A different work from the series made Reverón the winner of the Premio Nacional de Arte in 1953 and is now in the National Gallery in Caracas.

Wilfredo Lam’s Les Oiseaux Violes comes from a group of works which are characterized by delicately drawn lines and impressionistically dappled paint (est. $800,000/1.2 million). The exquisite coloration of blues, touches of light greens, and reds are brought together by alternating light and dark black lines that imbue the animated forms with a sense of movement and buoyancy. The appearance of Les Oiseaux Violes at auction follows the record set for Lam at Sotheby’s New York in November 2010.

A further surrealist highlight is Leonora Carrington’s El Árbol de la Vida which was painted nearly twenty years after she arrived in Mexico City (est. $500/700,000). Whilst this was a period in her life that was less tumultuous and eventful than her pre-war years in France, the artist continued to explore spirituality with supernatural imagery as seen in paintings like the present work. The sale includes two further Carrington paintings: Below and Snake (each est. $25/35,000).

Two monumental paintings by Roberto Matta feature in the evening and day sessions of the sale. Oceanes Tempêtes has not appeared on the market for twenty years and is a vibrant example of the artist’s surrealist paintings (est. $150/250,000). From part two of the sale is the 1997 Bonheur Solide (est. $120/180,000).

The sale also includes a wide overview of the work of Costa Rican/Mexican sculptor Francisco Z??iga, among the highlights of which are Madre en Cucullas from 1972 (est. $100/150,000) and the 1976 bronze El Pastorcillo (est. $150/175,000).

Mexican Muralists
David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera are known as ‘Los Tres Grandes’ of Mexican muralism. In his autobiography Siqueiros devotes a lengthy passage to Mujer Sentada which depicts a beautiful peasant woman who stopped by his door to ask the artist to paint her portrait. The extensive discussion of the work indicates that he thought of it as a historically important painting (est. $250/350,000). Jose Clemente Orozco’s Mexican Soldiers is an iconic work from 1930 (est. $125/175,000) and Peregrina Tlaxcalteca by Diego Rivera is the final work in the group (est. $250/300,000).

Mid 20th Century Abstraction
Among the highlights of the Latin American abstraction in the sale is a previously unknown work by Alejandro Otero. Estudio Para Coloritmo 3 has not been seen in public since it was sold by the Martha Jackson Gallery in the 1950s (est. $350/450,000). Its appearance at auction follows the new record set for the Venezuelan artist at Sotheby’s New York in November 2010.

In-Mensa by Cildo Meireles is a major work from the Brazilian conceptual artist (est. $80/120,000). The wooden sculpture invites the viewer to consider the space in and around the table-like, but ultimately abstract, work. It was included in the critically acclaimed exhibition Cildo Meireles at Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Los Angeles County Museum. The work creates an interesting dialoged with Relief 13/83 by Sergio Camargo, a fellow Brazilian whose white painted wood relief has been in the same private collection for over 40 years (est. $400/600,000).

Further highlights from this part of the sale include Gran Azul by Jesus Rafael Soto, a recent work that incorporates constructive elements in the foreground of the piece to create a sense of movement against the colored backdrop (est. $250/350,000).

Many of the pioneers of Latin American abstraction were women artists. As part of a new recognition, Sotheby’s is delighted to present a section of the sale dedicated to these artists. The work of the sculptor Gego has long been recognized in her native Venezuela but her work is increasingly being increasingly re-discovered internationally. Gego is represented in the sale with Sin Título from 1969 (est. $125/175,000) and Boceto Para Reticulárea from 1980 (est. $50/70,000). Sarah Girlo was an Argentine painter who has worked in New York and Madrid: Rojo Profundo is an early work that has been in the same collection for decades (est. $60/80,000) and Nobody Ever is a graffiti work executed in New York (est. $18/20,000). Carmen Herrera, a Cuban who has always painted New York, has been ‘rediscovered’ at the age of 90, West from 1965 is a bold and striking painting (est. $40/60,000).

Image: Joaquín Torres-García, Fourteenth Street (Business Town), signed and dated 1920 lower right, oil on board, 21 7/8 x 17 7/8 in., 55.5 x 45.5 cm. Est. $150/200,000. Photo: Sotheby’s

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