By Carter B. Horsley
This evening auction of Latin
at Christie's November 15, 2005 is highlighted by a spectacular
and huge oil on canvas by Matta (1911-2002), entitled "Watchman,
What of the Night?" that inexplicably is being deaccessioned
by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The monumental work measures
118 by 391 1/4
inches and was executed in 1968. It was given to the museum in
1984 by Alexander Iolas of Athens.
The painting, the catalogue
entry for this
lot maintained, "is an epic mural that brings together Matta's
vocabulary of abstract forms - biomorphic lines and fluid shapes
in explosive yellows, reds and greens against the nocturnal penumbra
- along with characters that seem born of nightmarish visions.
Masterful draftsmanship and sublime painterly effects create an
expansive, vastness of space shifting before our eyes. It is the
stage for an apocalyptic scene in which fallen bodies and imploring
figures capitulate to weapon-bearing creatures in the midst of
this incendiary landscape in flux."
The lot has a very conservative
$500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $990,400 including the
premium as do all results mentioned in this article. It was the
highest price realized in the evening sale in which about 75 percent
of the 65 offered lots sold for $9,031,600. The pre-sale estimate
for the evening session $9,880,000 to $13,010,000.
The auction set the
following 10 records:
Lot 29, "Tocador de
a 1958 oil on canvas on Candido Portinari (1903-1962), sold for
$721,600, way over its high estimate of $400,000. The previous
record of $275,000 was set at Christie's November 21, 1988. The
work measures 39 1/4 by 32 inches and was consigned by the Detroit
Institute of Arts to benefit its acquisition fund.
Lot 55, "Untitled," is
work by Mira Schendel (1919-1988) that had a high estimate of
$250,000 and sold for $284,800 to an institution. A tempera and
oil on wood, it measures 55 1/2 by 45 inches.
Lot 26, "Autorretato,"
1945 self-portrait by Carlos Merida, sold for $114,000 just over
the artist's previous world auction record set at Christie's May
28, 1998. An oil on canvas, it measures 39 1/2 by 32 inches.
Lot 61, "Ecriture,
N.Y.," a very
large and impressive work by Jesus Rafael Soto (1923-2005), had
a high estimate of $200,000 and sold for $262,400. The wood, aluminum
and nylon work measurs 82 3/4 by 198 3/4 by 14 inches.
Lot 19, Elevadores,"
by Alfredo Guttero
(1882-1932), sold for $90,000, just over his previous auction
record of $87,750 set at Sotheby's May 18, 1995. It is an oil
on board that measures 23 1/4 by 27 1/2 inches.
"Bandeirinbas," a 1960
work by Alfredo Volpi (1896-1988), sold for $192,000, way over
his previous record of $47,800 set at Christie's May 28, 2002.
A tempera on canvas, it measures 26 1/2 by 53 1/2 inches.
Lot 54, "Serie 29D No.
1-1, 8-8 1-1
8-8," by Julio le Parc (b. 1928), sold for $45,600, almost
double his previous auction record set at Christie's May 31, 2001.
The work is an acrylic on canvas that measurs 67 1/4 inches square.
It was executed in 1970.
Lot 56, "A Razao e a
by Cildo Meireles (b. 1948), sold for $84,000, the artist's first
time at auction. The work consists of two sections made out of
bamboo, metal chains, padlock and key and was executed in 1975-6.
Lot 65, "Untitled," a
by Carlos Amorales (b. 1970), sold for $22,800, nicely over the
previous record of $18,000 set last May 25 at Christie's. The
work is an oil on canvas that measures 59 1/4 by 78 3/4 inches.
Lot 67, "Covent Garden
V," a 2005
work by Guillermo Kuitca (b. 1961), sold for $66,000, establishing
a new record for a work on paper by the artist. The collage measures
58 1/2 inches square.
Lot 47 is a strong and lovely
oil on canvas
by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) entitled "Dos personajes en
un interior." It was painted in 1970 and measures 38 1/2
by 51 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.
It sold for $352,000.
Lot 42 is a large and classic
work by Fernando
Botero (b. 1932) entitled "Junta Militar." An oil on
canvas, it measures 92 by 76 1/2 inches and was executed in 1973.
It has an estimate of $750,000 to $950,000 and was once in the
Harry Abrams Collection. It sold for $912,000 to an American private
Virgilio Garza, the
head of Christie's Latin
American Art Department, said after the sale that "with the
excellent results achieved for Fernando Botero Christie's again
firmly cemented Botero's international reputation and appeal."
Jose Clemente Orozco
(1883-1949) was one of
Mexico's great muralists. Lot 16, "La gran meretriz,"
is a large and amusing tempera on paper that measures 35 1/2 by
45 1/4 inches. Executed in 1944, it has an estimate of $100,000
to $150,000. It was passed at $90,000.
Leonora Carrington (b. 1917)
of mystery that conjure magic and surreal and often humorous worlds.
Lot 27, "A Warning to Mother," is a superb and very
colorful oil on canvas that she executed in 1973. It measures
24 by 20 inches and has a modest estimate of $90,000 to $120,000.
It sold for $132,000.
Armando Morales (b. 1927) is an
artist whose paintings conjure statues in ghostly light. Lot 40
is a fine and large oil on canvas by him entitled "Frightened
Nude. It was executed in 1987 and measures 38 3/4 by 51 1/8 inches.
It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It was passed a