American art auction at Christie's is highlighted by fine works
by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), Diego Rivera (1886-1957), Fernando
Botero (b. 1982), Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982), Alejandro Xul Solar
(1887-1983), Carlos Merida (1891-1994), Claudio Bravo (b. 1936)
and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974).
illustration of the auction's catalogue is Lot 25, "Ballarinas,"
by Rufino Tamayo, aa 46-by-36-inch oil on canvas. Executed in
1942, it has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,000,000. It sold
for $889,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned
in this article. The evening portion of the auction totalled $4,911,995
with 66 percent of the 62 offered lots selling.
In his catalogue
essay on "Ballarinas," Juan Carlos Pereda provides the
from 1942 is without doubt one of the most beautiful works ever
painted by Tamayo. It is a canvas where new and ancient ideas
synthesize. This painting demonstrates the great aesthetic reach
that the artist had achieved until that moment, clearly showing
the splendor of Tamayo's mature poetics through his pictorial
language. The monolithic rendering of Ballarinas
three-dimensional space. At first glance, these dancers would
appear as priestesses that far from being stoic, are concentrated
on the ecstasies of their performance. The elegant execution and
slow movements appear to be part of a ritual, which would have
to do more with the sacred than with the profane. The bodies of
the dancers are rounded and heavy; no unlike the sculpture Tamayo
executed of Olga, the woman he married in 1934. In neither case
attempting to make a portrait, but instead managing to codify
a standard of beauty. Ballarinas constitues a great
of Rufino Tamayo as an accomplished colorist. The more restraint
this use of of color, the more significant its expressiveness.
The violent contrast of the different ranges of reds, blues and
blacks that saturate this scene succeed in concentrating our
the figures performing this eternal dance."
depicted figures certainly have a stateliness and are almost
this is quite a somber, albeit rich, painting in contrast to many
of the artist's more brilliantly colored works such as Lot 28,
"Dos personajes," shown at the top of this article,
an oil and sand on canvas, 38 3/8 by 51 1/4 inches. "Dos
personajes" was executed in 1968 and was once in the collection
of Harry Abrams of New York. It has a very modest estimate of
$150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $251,500.
Botero is represented by several works in this auction. Lot 41,
"Arcángel," shown above, is a 59 1/4-by-51 1/4-inch
oil on canvas was executed in 1985. It has an estimate of $220,000
to $260,000 and is a classic example of the artist's humor and
style. It sold for $218,500. Lot 40 is a delightful
statue of a cat that is 21 inches high and was executed in 2000
in an edition of 6. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.
It sold for $174,500. Lot 29, "La France," is
a bronze sculpture of a reclining woman that is 51 1/4 inches
long. Executed in 1985, it has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.
"Untitled," is a pleasant Matissesque portrait of a
woman by Wilfredo Lam, who is best known for his spiky abstractions.
The painting is an oil on paper laid down on canvas, 36 3/8 by
30 1/4 inches, chat was executed circa 1942. It has an estimate
of $140,000 to $180,000. It sold for $45,410!
is best known for his geometric abstractions that are usually
painted in earth tones. Lot 123, "Planetario," shown
above, is an unusually "cool" abstraction by Merida
that is particularly striking. The oil on canvas measures 31 1/2
by 26 1/8 inches and was executed in 1965. It has a very modest
estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $31,070.
Lot 83, "Scie le desir," is an
work by Matta. An acrylic on canvas, it measures 23 1/2 by 28
3/4 inches and was executed in 1957. It has a modest estimate
of $55,000 to $75,000. It sold for $53,775.
David Alfaro Siqueiros is one
of the greatest
Latin American artists and Lot 81, "Mountain Spirits,"
is a fine example of his bold style and painterliness. The pyroxylin
on panel measures 27 1/2 by 25 inches and was executed in 1954.
It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It was
Bravo is one of the world's great realist painters and this auction
has two related lots by him, Lot 30, "Le jouer de guitare,"
an charcoal and pencil on paper that measures 45 1/2 by 38 inches,
executed in 1974, and Lot 31, "In the studio," shown
above, which shows Lot 30 on an easel in the artist's studio and
measures 51 1/4 by 39 5/8 inches. It was painted in the same year
as Lot 30 and it has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000. It
sold for $95,600! Lot 30 has an estimate of $80,000 to
It sold for $45,410!
"Pendulum," is a stunning limestone, metal and wood
sculpture with thread elements by Gonzalo Fonseca (1922-2000).
The 62-inch-high, unique work was executed in 1983 and has an
estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $229,500.
"Ojos azules," is a fine abstraction by Alejandro Xul
Solar (1887-1963). The gouache and watercolor on paper laid down
on board measures 7 by 9 inches and was executed in 1923. It has
an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It failed to sell.
"Mujer indegena con elotes (Indian woman with corn),"
is a 26 1/2-by-19 5/8 inch oil on canvas by Diego Rivera (1886-1957).
Painted in 1926, it has an ambitious estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.
It sold for $295,500.
"Construtif avec ritmes dentels," by Joaquin Torres-Garcia
(1874-1949), an oil on canvas that measures 33 1/2 by 21 1/2 inches
and was executed in 1931, sold for $361,500, considerably above
its high pre-sale estimate of $250,000.
"Tres desnudos, viaducto, bicicletas," a 44 7/8-by-36
5/8-inch oil and beeswax on canvas by Armando Morales (b. 1927)
sold for $185,000 and had a high pre-sale estimate of $160,000.
It was executed in 1996.