Carter B. Horsley
2007 Latin American
Art auction at Sotheby's is highlighted by a major triptych by
Matta, a strong painting by Remedios Varo, and some excellent
works by Rufino Tamayo, Leonora Carrington and Fernando Botero.
"Et At It,"
is a triptych by Matta (1912-2002) that was created in 1944. An
oil on canvas, it measures 33 7/8 by 97 1/8 inches and was once
in the collection of William S. Rubin and is property from the
estate of Richard S. Zeisler to provide funds for the acquisition
of art by the National Gallery of Art in Washington. It has an
estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000.
catalogue provides an essay
on the painting by Martica Sawin with the following commentary
the moment he left
his employ as a draftsman in Le Corbusier's studio, Matta's goal
had been to give visual form to a world in flux. Her persisted
in describing himself not as a patiner, but as a montreur
- one who makes visible. In his earliest attempts to realize this
goal he used devices from drafting, like topographical contour
lines and warped grids, as well as scientific devices such as
the three-dimensional models that demonstrated the theories of
mathematician Henri Poincaré, and botanical microphotographs.
After he moved to New York from Europe at the start of World War
II his dominant imagery was an earth in upheaval, convulsed by
volcanic explosions. Then in the summer of 1943, as he described
it, he 'passed from a sort of burning fire, mineral lights and
that kind of thing into a space that was described by geodesic
lines and waves.' A major catalyst for this transition was Marcel
Duchamp and his The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even,
or (Large Glass), which in 1943 was placed on view
Museum of Modern Art where it was seen for the public for the
first time since its debut at the Brooklyn Museum in 1926. In
the interim it had been shattered and painstakingly repaired by
the artist, with the consequence that its transparency was overlaid
by a scrim of cracks that betrayed a material surface interlayered
with the rperception of what lay beyond, what was caught within
and what was seen in reflection....Et At It may be seen as a sequel
to two 1943 triptychs of similar dimensions...."
lot failed to sell.
Matta is Lot 59, "Vert
Je Te Veux Vert (Verde Que Te Quiero Verde)," an oil on canvas
painted in 1954. It measures 45 by 57 3/8 inches. It has an estimate
of $275,000 to $325,000. It sold for $361,000 including the
buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
is a great oil and sand painting on canvas by Rufino Tamayo
It measures 38 1/8 by 51 1/4 inches and was the cover illustration
of Emily Genauer's book on the artist that was published by Harry
N. Abrams Inc., in 1974.
painting, which was executed
in 1970, was reportedly discovered by Elizabeth Gibson in a pile
of rubbish in front of the Alexandria apartment building on the
northwest corner of Broadway and 72nd Street in 2003. It had been
acquired at Sotheby's in 1977 for $55,000 by a Texas collector
who put it in storage. It was found to be missing ten years later.
Gibson spent four years
trying to get information about the painting and finally found
out on the "Antiques Roadshow" website that it had been
featured in May, 2005 on the popular PBS program and described
as a missing masterpiece stolen in 1989.
has an estimate of
$750,000 to $1,000,000. It sold for $1,049,000 and news
indicated that Ms. Gibson will receive a $15,000 reward for returning
it to its owners plus a percentage of the auction price.
281 lots offered for
sale, 71.4 percent sold for a total including buyers' premiums
fine painting by Tamayo,
"Lot 60, "Dos Personajes de Frente," was consigned
by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to benefit its acquisitions
of Latin American Art. An oil and sand on canvas, it measures
37 1/3 by 51 1/8 inches. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $350,000.
It sold for $493,000.
Tamayo is Lot 63, "Heads
in White (Pareja)," an oil and sand on masonite that measures
12 3/8 by 32 1/8 inches. Executed in 1965, it has an estimate
of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $181,000.
is a very good oil on
masonite by Remedios Varo (1908-1963) that is entitled "Au
Bonheur des Dames (Au Bonheur des Citoyens)." Executed in
1956, it measures 35 by 23 3/4 inches.
to the catalogue,
"the subject and title of the painting are based on the 19th
Century novel by the French writer, emile Zola. Set in late 19th
Century Paris, it tells the story of Denise, a young woman who
moves to Paris with her two brothers after their father dies.
Life's circumstances thrust her into the realities of modern life
and she is obliged to take a job at Bonheur des Dames, a fictitious
department store....Varo used Zola's novel as a point of departure
to create a a fantastical world of hybrid females creatures or
homo rodans - a term coined by the artist - who
human characteristics along with inanimate or mechanized body
parts, such as wheels in place of legs. these hybird creatiures
glide about propelled by their own self-sufficient systems of
locomotion stopping briefly only to shop at the stylish Bonheur
des Dames to replenish old or worn body parts...Varo employs a
number of formal techniques associated with surrealism - decalomania
(blotting), frottage (rubbing), and grattage
(scraping) - all of which further intensify the painting's overall
an estimate of $600,000
to $800,000. It sold for $881,000.
haunting work by a
major woman artist is Lot 12, "El baño," by Leonora
Carrington (b. 1917). An oil on canvas, it measures 25 7/8 by
44 3/8 inches and was executed in 1957.
catalogue provides the
following interesting commentary by Susan Aberth:
to her friend, the surrealist painter Remedios Varo, that she
wished she had a 'wife' to take care of the domestic chores associated
with child rearing. The year 1957 was a busy one for the artist
who in addition to her usual prodigious output of work, was in
the process of producing her play Pénélope in Mexico
City, for which she also designed and made the stage sets and
costumes. Although Carrington adored her sons Gabriel and Pablo,
then aged 11 and 9, it must have been difficult juggling such
a great variety of tasks....Two boyish heads peer out from the
surface of the water in a small pool....with the relentless stare
of children everywhere who demand the attention of their parents
and to be rescued from boredom and entertained, her sons look
to their mother in the same way that audiences will be looking
at the theatrical unfolding of Pénélope. Carrington
rises to the challenge, like all desperate mothers, and with the
magic of a Celtic bard invokes the realm of faerie. The family
dogs, in all probablity two of the mainly ungainly mongrels she
adopted out of her passionate concern for animal welfare, now
resemble the mystical creatures found guarding the thorses of
exotic rulers. To the far...[left] is a tall marble herm festooned
with a beribboned laurel wearth as if demarcating sacred space,
while ancient looking amphorae on a nearby shelf hint at ritual
offerings. In the foreground a ghostly white woman in a tight
black sheath, looking remarkably like the artist replete with
a glorious thick mane of hair, balances a pinkish egg on her nose
that seems to be miraculously suspended from the sky on a gossamer
string. Her kneeling pose is that of a preistess beside a reflecting
pool upon whose surface she is about to read the future, but only
after the creepy spectral hands clinging to the stairs either
disappear into the water or pull out whatever is lurking in the
deep. Overhead a large pink-winged dragonfly is suspended, as
if summoned by the oracle. Eggs lie here and here, hinting of
tempera paint and art production, motherhood, and fecundity in
general. In front of the boys are black and white spheres and
figures that presumably function as toys. Like the articulated
clay figures unearthed in pre-Columbia tombs, or the carved wooden
dolls made by her friend José Horna, these playthings are
arranged with all of the precision and solemnity of objects on
an altar. Carrington has turned the poolside into a proscenium,
with seated figures in a draped bleacher as if about to view a
medieval jousting tournament...."
has a modest estimate
of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $541,000.
work by Carrington
is Lot 18, "Animals," an oil on canvas that measures
24 by 39 5/8 inches. It was executed circa 1965 and has an estimate
of $175,000 to $225,000. It sold for $241,000.
is a superb and powerful
landscape by David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). A pryosilin on
masonite, it measures 23 1/8 by 47 1/8 inches and was painted
in 1971. It has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $60,000.
It sold for $67,000.
is a pryoxilin on masonite by David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974).
It measures 29 58 by 24 inches and was executed in 1939. It has
an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $529,000,
an auction record for the artist.
Lot 8 is
an amusing version
by Fernando Botero (b. 1933) of Edouard Manet's famous "Le
Déjeuners sur l'Herbe." Botero'soil on canvas measures
70 7/8 by 74 7/8 inches and was executed in 1969. It has an estimate
of $1,400,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $1,329,000.
is a strong work by
José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949). Entitled "Tres Cabezas,"
it is an oil on canvas laid down on masonite. It measures 18 1/4
by 14 5/8 inches. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It
failed to sell.
is a fine landscape
painting of an aqueduct by Diego Rivera (1886-1957). An oil on
canvas, it measures 21 1/2 by 25 1/2 inches and was painted in
1918. It has an estimate of $500,000 to $600,000. It sold for
is an excellent work
by Armando Reveron (1889-1954). An oil and tempera on burlap,
it measures 37 1/4 by 41 3/8 inches. It was painted circa 1938.
It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for
an auction record for the artist.
is a marvelous maple
wood breadbox by Los Carpinteros: Dagoberto Rodriguex and Marcos
Castillo. Made in 2004 and number 2/5, it measures 34 1/2 by 123
1/2 by 18 inches. It has an estimate of $35,000 to $45,000.
It failed to sell.