Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's November 19 and 20, 2003
is highlighted by several fine works by Claudio Bravo, a superb
landscape by Diego Rivera, a major work by José Clemente
Orozco, some excellent works by Wilfredo Lam, a great Remedios
Varo and two nice paintings by Rufino Tamayo.
Bravo (b. 1936) is a sensational realist painter best known for
his trompe l'oeil depictions of packages, drapes, and still lifes.
Lot 51, "Before The Game," is a masterful, bravura composition
of soccer players in a pre-game room. The 78 1/2-by-94 1/2-inch
oil on canvas was executed in 1973. It was once in the collection
of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and has an estimate
of $450,000 to $650,000. It sold for $433,600 including the
buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article.
major Bravo is Lot 30, "Self-Portrait," in which the
artist poses nude like the man in a famous drawing by Leonardo
Da Vinci, "Proportions of the Human Figure," also know
as the "Vitruvian Man," which, the catalogue notes,
"demonstrated how all proportions in nature could be ascribed
to the circle and the square." The 79 1/2-by-59-inch oil
on canvas was executed in 1970 and has an estimate of $250,000
to $300,000. It sold for $276,800.
"White Package," is one of Bravo's famous "package"
paintings. Executed in 1967, the oil on chipboard measures 14
by 10 5/8 inches. It has been consigned by the Bill Blass Foundation
and has an estimate of $90,000 to $120,000. It sold for
Bravos have been consigned for the benefit of the Museum of Fine
Arts in Boston including Lot 25, "Red Turban," a 32
1/4-by-25 1/4-inch oil on canvas, which has an estimate of $60,000
to $80,000. It sold for $198,400 and drew a round of applause.
Lot 5 is
a marvelous landscape by Diego Rivera (1886-1957) of Toledo and
its angular, tortured geometric view would most likely enchant
El Greco, whose famous view of the same Spanish city hangs at
the Metropolitan Museum (see The City Review article). Rivera
spent a few years in Paris where he developed his own very colorful
Cubist style that he would eventually abandon for his more famous
social realism murals. Cézanne, too, would admire this
very fine oil on canvas that measures 24 1/8 by 20 1/4 inches.
Executed in 1913, it has a modest estimate of $600,000 to $700,000.
It sold for $512,00.
on a more restricted budget, Lot 97, "Illustration for Ilya
Ehrenburg's 'The Tale of Nadiunka," is a very strong ink
on rice paper by Diego Rivera. It was executed in 1916 and measures
7 1/2 by 5 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000.
It sold for $13,200.
Lot 7 is
an important work by José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) that
is entitled "Prometeo." An oil on masonite, it measures
35 1/2 by 41 inches and is a rectilinear version of the artist's
important ogival arch fresco of Prometheus at Pomona College.
The catalogue notes that the Pomono College fresco is cited by
experts as "a turning point" in Orozco's career, "fusing
all of is previous training and boldly announcing a breakthrough
to full artistic maturity." "Prometheus pulsates withrebellion,"
it continued, adding that Jackson Pollock "repeatedly referred
to Orozco as 'the real man' and consistently remarked that Prometheus...was
'the greatest painting in North America." It has a modest
estimate of $300,000 to $350,000. It sold for $534,400,
a new world's auction record for the artist. It was shown only
in reproduction at the exhibition as it is part of the National
Heritage of Mexico and not allowed to leave that country.
illustration of the auction catalogue is Lot 8, "Femme Cheval,"
a superb oil on canvas by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982). Dated 1955,
it measures 49 by 42 5/8 inches and has an estimate of $300,000
to $400,000. It sold for $579,200. The catalogue
the following commentary by Julia Herzberg:
an attempt to move beyond a mere appropriation of Picasso's animal
forms, Lam fused diverse zoological elements within one human
figure, including the horse's snout, pointed ears, mane, buttock,
and tail. The resulting amalgams are articulated in a fully developed
Cubist space of multiple viewpoints and overlapping forms. Surrealism
freed Lam from traditional representation and opened up the
for subversion of the naturalistic that results in endless surprise
and delight....The horse motif should be understood in the context
of Afro-Cuban culture, in which it resonates with meaning. Its
presence alludes to an important religious phenomenon, the process
of being possessed."
sometimes tends to sold, but Lot 8 is richly saturated as is Lot
32, another Lam, which is entitled "Sans Titre (Idoli 9)."
An oil on canvas that measures 35 by 29 inches, it is dated 1962
and has a conservative estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It is
notable for its mutli-colored vertical banding at the right. It
failed to sell and was passed at $90,000.
"Totem," is a vibrantly colorful and strong abstraction
by Lam. An oil on canvas that measures 31 1/2 by 23 3/8 inches,
it was painted in 1972 and has a modest estimate of $80,000 to
$100,000. It sold for $90,000.
"Morphologie Pscyhologique de L'Attente," is an important
early work by Matta (1911-2002). An oil on canvas, it measures
28 by 35 7/8 inches and was executed in 1938. It has an ambitious
estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $792,000
and was the highest price attained in the evening portion of the
auction, which totalled $7,249,600, about the middle range of
the pre-sale estimates of $6,500,000 to $8,600,000. Kirsten Hammer,
one of the specialists in Sotheby's Latin American Art Department,
said the auction's success reflected an improving market and noted
that there was "very enthusiastic bidding." Of the 54
offered lots in the evening section of the auction, 44 sold, or
Varo (1908-1963) was one of the great woman artists of the 20th
Century whose mystical fantasies are supremely Surrealist. Lot
9, "Caminos Tortuosos," is a fine small gouache on heavy
paper by Varo that measures 18 1/2 by 10 7/8 inches. Painted in
1957, it has been widely published and has a conservative estimate
of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $187,200.
has two good "pink" paintings by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991).
Lot 38, "Hombre," is a very fine oil and sand on canvas
that measures 28 3/4 by 35 1/2 inches. Executed in 1961, it has
a modest estimate of $200,000 to $250,000. It failed to sell
and was passed at $170,000.
"Hombre en Rojo," is a larger Tamayo that was done 15
years after Lot 38. Entitled "Hombre en Rojo," it is
an oil and sand on canvas that measures 31 1/2 by 39 7/8 inches.
Like Lot 38, its dominant color is pink, but it is a more distinctly
painted and formal composition that does not have the fabulous
texture of Lot 38, nor its intense deep blue accents. This lot
has an estimate of $300,000 to $350,000. It sold for $411,200.
Lot 88 is
a very lovely gouache on paper by Mario Carreño that is
entitled "Mujer con Guitarra." Executed in 1947, it
measures 21 by 27 1/2 inches and has an modest estimate of $20,000
to $30,000. It sold for $32,400.
"Katos," is a very strong pyroxylin on panel by David
Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). It was executed in 1963 and measures
23 7/8 by 18 inches and has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $40,000.
It sold for $54,000.
Botero (b. 1933) is represented by Lot 36, "Cardenal (Niño
de Guevara," an enormous oil on canvas that he executed in
1984. It measures 67 1/4 by 70 inches and has a modest estimate
of $175,000 to $225,000. It sold for $198,400.