Art sales in the fall of 2001 are a bit thin in terms of masterworks,
a reflection of deteriorating economies, but there are some good
The cover illustration of the catalogue, shown above, for this
sale at Christies, November 20, 2001 at 7 PM, for example, is
Lot 20, "Tres destinos," by Remedios Varo (1900-1963),
a 35- 3/8-by-42 ½-inch oil on masonite that was executed
One of her more highly finished works, it has the quietude of
certain Italian Renaissance altarpieces but is infused with her
own individual mysticism and theories of destiny and the
It has a slightly ambitious estimate of $500,000 to $700,000,
but Varo is a major female artist of the 20th Century and an important
Surrealist along with Leonora Carrington, Wilfredo Lam and Matta.
It sold for $556,000 including the buyer's premium as do all
prices mentioned in this article.
auction only sold
61 percent of the 61 offered lots for $4,923,188, but the lots
sold represented 78 percent of the estimated total. Although there
were numerous "passes," the auction was actually quite
strong and set numerous auction records for individual artists.
Lot 29, "La silla: Daghda Tuatha de Danaan," is a good
example of the Surrealist work of Leonora Carrington (b. 1917).
The 19 ¾-by-15 ¾-inch oil on canvas was executed
in1955 and has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. This painting
of a throne chair is full of mythic references to the creative
powers of the sun, the fertility of Daghda and magic. It sold
24, "La Plume
Verte," is an 18-by-40-inch oil on burlap painting by Wilfredo
Lam (1902-1982) is unusual for its horizontal format and for its
relatively strong palette. It was executed in 1955 and has an
estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. It failed to sell and was
"passed" at $65,000.
Matta (b. 1911) is Latin America's most formidable Surrealist
and abstract painter as well as one of its most prolific artists.
Lot 14, "Untitled," is a fine colored crayon on paper,
9 ¾ by 12 ¾ inches, that was drawn in 1937. It has
an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000 and was once in the collections
of Pierre Matisse and Acquavella galleries in New York. It
sold for $160,000.
good Matta is Lot
125, which is being offered in the day sale, November 20, 2001. It is
an oil and canvas and measures .
It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.
fine pendant for the Matta
is a colored pencil and watercolor on board by Alejandro Xul Solar
(1887-1963) is an artist of colorful whimsy. Lot 16, shown above,
it is entitled "Bichos y flatus," and is a good example
of his spirited designs. It measures 8 ¾ by 6 ½
inches. It was drawn in 1935 and has a modest estimate of $40,000
to $60,000. It failed to sell and was "passed" at
of the auction's highlights
is a fine painting of "Butterfly Hunters," Lot 17, shown
above, by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991). Entitled "Cazadores
de mariposas," it is an oil on canvas that measures 39 ½
by 29 ½ inches and was painted in 1948. The catalogue notes
that it was once in the collection of the San Francisco Museum
of Art and that it "is an exquisite exampleof Tamayo's fully
matured style of the late 1940s," adding that "Here
the consolidation of technique and color theory are unmistakably
his own." "Tamayo's fascination with flight and nature
is well recordedBirds, and in this case butterflies, held immense
significance to the artist. They were flying messengers from the
cosmos, harbingers of good fortune or disaster. In this painting,
these messengers are undeniably optimistic. Dancing tauntingly
across the canvas, their yellow wings break the rich green and
red tones of the composition. Technology is represented by the
robot like figuration of the hunters themselves; their bodies
broken into planes and stiff movements, unable to capture the
The lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for
Two artists who share an earthly abstractionism with Tamayo, albeit
in quite different styles, are Gunther Gerzso (1915-2000) and
Francisco Toledo (b. 1940).
former is represented
in the auction by a very rich and dark abstraction, "Lugar
Desconicido, 1950," a 16 1/8-by-24-inch oil on board. The
1947 painting, Lot 19, was among the works in the artist's first
exhibition at the Galeria de Arte Mexicano. It has an estimate
of $45,000 to $55,000. It sold for $64,625.
latter is represented
with two works, Lot 27, shown above, and Lot 28. The former is
entitled "Lluvia," and is a gouache on paper that measures
22 ¼ by 29 7/8 inches. Painted circa 1970, it has an estimate
of $35,000 to $40,000. It sold for $32,900. Lot 28
the same dimensions, date and estimate and is entitled "Figura
con tenedor." Lot 28 failed to sell and was passed at
is a very impressive oil crayon on paper laid down on board of
a tied package by Claudio Bravo (b. 1936). Measuring 28 by 22
7/8 inches, it was executed in 1966 and has an estimate of $160,000
to $220,000. It sold for $204,000.
very sweet and nice portrait
of a girl by Diego Rivera (1886-1957) is Lot 8, entitled"Retrato
de la nina Dolores Reachi." The 22 5/8-by-13 1/8-inch oil
on canvas, shown above, was executed in 1949 and has an estimate
of $200,000 to $250,000. It sold for $248,000.
Rivera, Lot 34,
"Interior de Cuernavaca," is much larger and not as
charming. The 67 1/2-by-79-inch oil on canvas was painted in 1954
and has an estimate of $200,000 to $250,000. It sold for
It is a portrait of Carmita Ignarra, a well-known radio
is a strong painting of a calabash by Daviod Alfaro Siqueiros
(1896-1974). The 22 7/8-by-29 7/8-inch piroxilin on masonite was
executed in 1953 and has an esimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It
sold for $76,375 and sold from the catalogue as it is a national
treasure of Mexico that is not allowed outside that country.
Scott marching into Mexico City," is an attractive urban
scene that was painted by Winfield Ellis in 1857. The 36-by-61
1/4-inch oil on canvas has an estimate of $18,000 to $20,000 and
sold for $149,000!
52, "Untitled (Triptych),"
by Sergio Carmago (1930-1990), shown above, consists of three
painted wood panels, each 108 inches square. The work was executed
in 1968 and was commissioned by the Banco do Brasil in New York.
It has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for
breaking the former world auction record for the artist of $51,570
set at Christie's in New York May 28, 1998.
were set for the following artists: Pedro Gualdi (1809-1857),
Lot 40, "Vista de la Catedral y parte del Zocalo en Mexico,
"$143,400; Helio Oiticica (1937-1980), Lot 56, "Parangole
de aqua," which sold for $82,250; Doris Salcedo (b. 1958),
Lot 58, "Sin Titulo," which sold for $78,850; Vik Muniz
(b. 1961), Lot 59, "Sugar Children," which sold for
$75,200; Nicholas Leiva (b. 1958), Lot 62, "Nunez perturbada,"
which sold for $30,550.