Carter B. Horsley
The cover illustration of the
this auction is a wonderfully sumptuous abstraction of watermelons
by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), who is widely regarded as the greatest
Latin American modern painter.
Tamayo’s palette is always rich
and during his career he experimented, as did Matta (b. 1991),
with many different themes and compositions, but almost all have
a great and subtle sense of earthliness, heat and energy.
This painting, Lot 38, shown at
the top of
this article, explodes with the bright redness of the inside of
watermelons, ignores their black pits, and uses the white rinds
as the image's major design elements. The curved, white rinds,
however, are not symmetrically placed and often are submerged
in the overall, juicy redness.
This is one of Tamayo’s most
works and could well be compared with the pulsating colors of
a Mark Rothko that envelop the viewer with a swimming universe
of floating, saturated color "fields."
The 51 ¼-by-76 ¾-inch oil on
canvas was executed in 1958 and has an estimate of $900,000 to
$1,200,000. It sold for $1,215,750 including the buyer's
as do all results in this article. The world auction record
for the artist is $2,367,500 set at Sotheby's in May, 1997.
Another "hot" Tamayo work is
46, "Desnudo en Rojo," a 76 3/8-by-51 3/8-inch oil and
canvas that was executed in 1977. The painting has a limited palette
of pinks and reds and grays and blacks and shows a man with an
obelisk-like object floating in front of him. It has an estimate
of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $390,750.
Another Tamayo is a fine
totemic statue of
steel with a unique patina, entitled "Ancestor," that
is 85 inches tall and has a surface that is marvelous evocative
of dry earth. The work, Lot 41, was executed in 1990 and is one
of an edition of three. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $250,000.
It was passed at $130,000.
If Tamayo’s consistent mature
quintessential Latin in temperament, Matta’s is quite the
opposite, a dynamic infusion of surrealistic and futuristic
that is astounding in its inventiveness of forms and intense and
often garish colors.
Lot 17, for example, is an
Matta painting that has a yellow background with a landscape drawn
almost with elevation lines and a variety of highlights of objects
that are reminiscent of those of Yves Tanguy. This untitled "landscape"
is an 18-by-22 ½-inch graphite and watercolor on paper
was executed in 1938 and has an estimate of $250,000 to $300,000.
It sold for $258,750.
Lot 43, "Composition with
by Angel Zárraga (1886-1946) was the evening's most sumptuous
painting. The 36 1/4-by-28 5/8-inch oil on canvas was executed
in 1916 and has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold
The catalogue provides the
by Professoir Paulette Patout on this lot:
"Working under the influence of
Picasso and Juan Gris, Angel Zàrraga constructed a fractured
space combined with a remarkably controlled and polished
of planes in Composition with Parrots, true to the
of Synthetic Cubism. Zárraga's use of color and his varied
use of Pointillism in this work has much in common with that of
another Mexican painter workingin Paris at the same time, Diego
Rivera...although Zárraga's work is distinctive in its
Lot 28, "Naturaleza Muerta," by
Rivera (1886-1957), is a ravishing and excellent Cubist still
life oil on canvas, 11 1/8 by 15 1/8 inches. Executed in 1916,
it has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for
Lot 19, "Retrato de José
Castro Sosa," by Diego Rivera, oil on canvas, 39 3/8 by23
5/8 inches, was executed in 1936.
The catalogue provides the
on the work by Professor Luis-Martin Lozano:
"Firmly believing that they
were the hope
of...Mexico's future, as the beneficiaries of social changes promised
by the Revolution of 1910, Diego Rivera often chose children as
the subjects of his portraits. Rivera had a strong commitment
to accurately depict Mexico's cultural reality. In Retratro
de José Guadalupe Castro Sosa, the painter conferred
a sense of dignity on indigenous people and the working classes,
though this sensitive representation of children....The Retrato
de José Guadalupe Castro Sosa, painted in 1936, when the
child was two and a half years of age, is a masterwork witihin
Rivera's oeuvre of portraits of children. The small child projects
a searching look toward the viewer. His sparkling dark brown eyes
express a combination of gentleness, hope and melancholy. Rivera
presents the child as taciturn and vulnerable, with one hand seeking
support from the wall behind him."
The lot has an estimate of
$500,000 to $700,000.
It sold for $555,750.
Lot 20, another child
portrait by Rivera
with the same estimate, however, failed to sell, passing at $470,000.
fine sculpture by Fernando
Botero (b. 1932), "Reclining Nude," a 68-inch-long bronze,
Lot 10, was executed in 1987 and has an estimate of $300,000 to
$400,000. It sold for $346,750.
Lot 51, "La Annunciation," by
Morales, is a very good oil on paper laid down on canvas, 25 5/8
by 38 1/8 inches, 1998. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.
It sold for $69,750.
One of the auction's most
is Lot 63, "For The Record: The Eleventh Commandment,"
by Arnaldo Roche-Rabell, an oil on canvas, 96 inches square, that
was executed in 1990 and has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000.
It sold for $26,050.
Lot 33, "Litany of the
by Leonora Carrington (b. 1917), is a 27 5/8-by-39 3/8-inch oil
on canvas that was executed in 1959. It has an estimate of $225,000
to $275,000. It sold $225,750.
A large panoramic
painting of the city of
Sao Paulo in Brazil by Arnaud Julien Palliere (1783-1862) sold
for $830,750, which brought forth a round of applause from the
auction room and set a new world auction record for the artist.
Three other auction records for artists were set.
The evening part of
the sale realized $7,708,375
with 72.06 percent of the 68 offered lots selling.