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Latin American Art

Christie's

7 PM, November 19, 2008 (Lots 1-80)

Sale 2054A

10 AM, November 20, 2008 (Lots 101-321)

Sale 2054B

"Bonjour monsieur Lam" by Lam

Lot 35, "Bonjour monsieur Lam," by Wilfredo Lam, oil and charcoal on burlap, 29 1/2 by 59 1/4 inches, 1959

By Carter B. Horsley

The evening auction of Latin American Art at Christie's November 19, 2008 is highlighted by several masterpieces by such important artists by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982), Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), and Matta (1911-2002).

Lot 35, show above, is a large and very impressive oil and charcoal painting on burlap by Lam that is entitled "Bonjour monsieur Lam." Painted in 1959, it measures 29 1/2 by 59 1/4 inches.

In a catalogue essay for the lot, Alejandro Anreus provides the following commentary:

"Throughout most the 1940s Lam's paintings are colorful and lush, after 1947 his palette becomes starker - browns, blacks and grays are balanced with areas of red, yellow or blue. His earlier more expressionistic use of line...is replaced by a precise, elegant drawing endowed with neo-classical rigor. His canvases of the 1950s possess a grand sobriety, where sharply defined forms are interlaced within fields of dark blues, olive greens, brown and blacks. Bonjour monsieur Lam belongs to this period. A horizontal composition, Bonjour monsieur Lam contains a winged horse that fills most of the picture plane; interlaced with it and leaning towards the lower right is a reclining figure with a horned mask for a face, while in the background a branch-like form with thorns floats diagonally. The elongated figures reflect the artist's re-invention of oceanic sculpture, which he studied and collected with particular focus during the 1950s. The title evokes self-portraits by both Gustave Courbet and Paul Gauguin, where the artist is greeted by a patron or audience. It is possible to read this image as a metaphorical self-portait (winged horse) where the artist is entangled with his audience (masked horned figure) in a world of struggle (thorns)."

This painting's composition is sensational and its horizontal format and large size is unusual for Lam. The painting was once in the collection of Prince Furstenberg of Vienna and has been widely exhibited and published. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It failed to sell.

"Stop the Age of Hemmohrr" by Matta

Lot 15, "Stop the Age of Hemmohrr," by Matta, oil on canvas, 78 by 117 1/2 inches, 1948

Lot 15 is a very vibrantly colored, large and very, very impressive oil on canvas by Matta. Painted in 1948, it measures 78 by 117 1/2 inches and is entitled "Stop the Age of Hemmohrr." It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It failed to sell.

Abby McEwen provides the following excellent commentary on this marvelous and spectacular work in her catalogue entry:

"'If we admit that we are entering a new world in which there are laws that we do not understand,' Matta reasoned mid-career, 'in such a world it is the task of the poet and the artist to represent this new physics where we must now live and which is revolutionary.' The experience of the Second World War was profoundly unsettling for Matta, and to the physic hemeticism of his early work he began to introduce imagery more deeply existential and catacylismic in feeling. Influenced by the wartime exhibition of Picasso's Guernica in the United States and the Mexican muralist movement, whose work Matta saw during two trips to Mexico in the 1940s, he began to paint on a far greater scale than his American contemporaries at the time. A dynamic figure on the New York scene since his emigration from Paris in 1938, Matta served as a conduit between the European Surrealists who had gathered in New York, including Breton, Ernst and Tanguy, and the emerging New York School. The visionary projection and uncanny originality of his Surrelist paintings, would have a great impact on the young Pollock, Rothko and Gorky'; and his monumentally-sized canvases of the mid- to later 1940s anticipated those of the Abstract Expressionists. In early masterpieces such as the present Stop the Age of Hemmohrr and Being With (1946), a complex labyrinth people with unnatural humanoid beings and grotesquely contorted architecture, Matta began to unveil a new iconography of monstrous anthropomorphic beings that acted within what he described as a social rather than personal or psychic, morphology of form. 'To move away from the intimate, imaginary forms...toward the cultural, totemic expressions of civilizations...the formation of cultures in confrontation with social landscapes,' he explained, was to invest his forms with the historical consciousness of the present reality. 'I want to show the contradictions involved in realty,' Matta further emphasized to William Rubin. 'It is the space created by contradictions, the space of that struggle, which interests me as the best picture of our real condition. The fault with most pictures today is that they show an a priori freedom from which they have eliminated all contradicton, all resemblance to reality'....Realist in a most desultory, purely visionary way, the present work is rife with contradictory elements; the pictorial space warps and expands around the grotesquely outsized half-human, half-insect creatures that punctuate the gelatinous, suggestively catalytic background. 'I want to replace perspective,' Matta explained, 'by a kind of prespecting and simultanously to replace the space of distance with the space of feeling....All extremes and everything that is found within them - should be seen in terms of prospecting and be expressed in a special kind of space: a space of feeling.' This affective space grounds Matta's universalism in the anguish of his own experience, lending a compelling intimacy to painting that became increasingly non-referential....In Stop the Age of Hemmohrr, the torquing diagonal, carried by a strangely attenuated yellow form, connects the jagged, pincer-like figures at the top to the more aggressive exoskeletal bodies looming below. Encased within an amber blister at the left sits a sinister composite form, appedances sharply angular and innards gapingly exposed. 'They seem monstrous cybernetic embodiments of the hidden forces that seek to control our lives,' Rubin observed, the signs of the devastation and catalcylismic shock of a facturerd, post-war reality experience, by Matta working from New York this time, first-hand."

The lot has a modest estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It failed to sell.

"Mujeres" by Tamayo

Lot 33, "Mujeres," by Rufino Tamayo, oil and sand on canvas, 51 1/2 by 77 1/4 inches, 1960

Lot 33 is a great painting by Tamayo entitled "Mujeres." An oil and sand on canvas, it measures 51 1/2 by 77 1/4 inches and was painted in 1960. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It failed to sell.

In her catalogue essay on the lot, Celeste Donovan provides the following commentary:

"Set in a room with a louvered window, two female figures, reduced to elemental lines and circles, stand before a large, looming form of an animal. Inspired by Cubism, the geometric shapes overlap and conflate the figures, thereby challenging traditional perspective and composition. The tight spatial relationship between the women and the animal suggest the interconnectedness of humanity and nature. Likewise, modernity and antiquity fuse in Mujeres. The areas of pattern that cup the left and right shoulders of the women, for example, mimic a jaguar's coat and a feathered wing, alluding to presentations found inMesoamerican codices and murals."

It is quite extraordinary that the three finest works in this auction should fail to sell.

"Los Amigos" by Tamayo

Lot 11, "Los Amigos," by Rufino Tamayo, oil on canvas,38 1/4 by 51 1/4inches,1976

Lot 11 is one of several works in the auction to be consigned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to benefit acquisitions of Latin American Art. It is entitled "Los Amigos" and is an oil on canvas by Tamayo that measures 38 1/4 by 51 1/4 inches. Painted in 1976, it has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $$338,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. Of the 79 works offered in this evening sale, only 51 sold for a total for $10,724,400. Virgilio Garza, head of Christie's Latin Ameican Art department, said after the auction that "despite the current financial situation, we saw positive results for tonight's sale, which broke seven auction records for work by Emilio Pettoruti, César Paternosto, Manuel Rodriguez Lozano, Manuel Pailos, Roberto Aizenberg, Julio Galan, and Adriana Varejao."

The total for both the evening and day sale came to $14,150,963 and was 70% sold by lot. Combined with the $33.8 million fetched in the Spring auctions, Christie's grand total for Latin American Art in 2008 is $48,012,313, representing the second highest annual total for Christie's.

Mr. Garza said "We had a very successful Day Session of Latin American Art, proving the strength of the middle market across all categories of sculpture, Mexican School, Cuban Modernism, geometric abstraction and Contemporary Art. Despite the current financial situation, six artist records were achieved in the Day Session for José Maria Mijares, Jorge Camacho, Tomás Sánchez, Mario Carreño, Juan Manuel Hernández and Arturo Montoto, adding to the seven records established in the Evening Sale. The two-day sales witnessed active international bidding, proving freshness to the market, excellent quality and superb artistic merit are qualities that continue to be recognized by astute collectors."

"Hombre contra un muro" by Tamayo

Lot 51, "Hombre contra un muro," by Rufino Tamayo, oil and sand on canvas, 37 3/4 by 51 1/4 inches, 1975

Lot 51 is a good oil and sand on canvas by Tamayo. Entitled "Hombre contra un muro," it measures 37 3/4 by 51 1/4 inches, and was painted in 1975. It has an estimate of $320,000 to $420,000. It sold for $386,500.

"Serenata a la luna" by Tamayo

Lot 22, "Serenata a la luna," by Rufino Tamayo, oil on canvas, 42 1/4 by 30 inches, 1949

Lot 22 is another oil on canvas by Tamayo that has a nice dark palette. Entitled "Serenata a la luna," it measures 42 1/4 by 30 inches and was painted in 1949. It has a very ambitious estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.

"Homenaje a los pueblos negros" by Siqueiros

Lot 25, "Homenaje a los pueblos negros en su lucha actual," by David Alfaro Siqueiros, pyroxiline on wood, 31 1/2 by 23 5/8 inches, 1960

Lot 25 is an interesting and good pyroxiline on wood by David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). It measures 31 1/2 by 23 5/8 inches and was painted in 1960. It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $218,500.

"El Cantor" by Pettoruti

Lot 12, "El Cantor," by Emilio Pettoruti, oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 23 5/8 inches, 1934

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 12, "El Cantor," an oil on canvas by Emilio Pettoruti (1892-1971). Painted in 1934, it measures 31 7/8 by 23 5/8 inches. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $780,500.

"Tres figuras" by Garcia

Lot 13, "Tres figuras," by Joaquin Torres Garcia, oil on canvas, 51 by 58 1/2 inches, 1946

Lot 13, "Tres figuras," by Joaquin Torres Garcia is an oil on canvas that measures 51 by 58 1/2 inches,. Painted in 1946, it has an ambitious estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It failed to sell.

"Tres hombres" by Rivera

Lot 24, "Tres Hombres construyendo un huacalo," by Diego Rivera, oil on masonite, 11 1/4 by 15 5/8 inches, 1944

Lot 24 is an excellent small oil on masonite by Diego Rivera (1886-1957). It measures 11 1/4 by 15 5/8 inches and was painted in 1944. It has an estimate of $140,000 to $180,000. It sold for $146,500.

"Runa Macii" by de Szyszlo

Lot 30, "Runa Macii," by Fernando de Szyszlo, acrylic on canvas, 59 by 47 1/8 inches, 1971

Fernando de Syzszlo (b. 1925) is a Peruvian artist who creates swirling abstractions with figurative overtones usually with vibrant but monochromatic palettes. Lot 30, "Runa Macii," is a good example of his style. An acrylic on canvas, it measures 59 by 47 1/8 inches and it was painted in 1971. It has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $56,250.

"The Garden of Paracelsus," by Carrington

Lot 45, "The Garden of Paracelsus," by Leonora Carrington, oil on canvas, 33 1/4 by 47 5/8 inches, 1957

Lot 45 is a large oil on canvas by Leonora Carrington (b. 1917) entitled "The Gardenof Paracelsus." It measures 33 1/4 by 47 5/8 inches and was painted in 1957. It has an ambitious estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It failed to sell. "Executed during the height of her involvement with the Gurdjieff group in Mexico during the 1950s, it draws upon a number of occult sources, yet resists easy interpretation. This is the great strength of Carrrington's best work; it never degenerates into grimoire illutstration but hovers on the precipice of magical awareness....Paracelsus (1493-1541) iss best known as a European Renaissance physician and alchemist....Paracelsus underscored the relation between the 'macrocosm' and the 'microcosm,' believing that there was a connection between the firmament of the heavenly bodies and the firmament of the human body.....Carrington first became attracted to alchemy as an art student at the Amde Ozenfant Academy in London....Set in the starry heavens, The Garden of Paracelsus is an alchemical play. At the center of a magic circle is a female figure holding the alchemical egg. Her ghostly countenance associates her with both silver and the moon, while her communion with a black angel may represent her astral double," according to a catalogue entry by Susan L. Alberth.

"Cour d'Amour Epris" by Carrington

Lot 48, "Cour d'Amour Epris," by Leonora Carrington,oil on canvas,10 3/4 by 36 3/8 inches, 1960

Lot 48 is a much simpler but also lovelier Carrington oil on canvas. Entitled "Cour d'Amour Epris," it measures 10 3/4 by 36 3/8 inches. Executed in 1960, it has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $146,500.

"Hormigas y amapolas" by Soriano

Lot 47, "Hormigas y amapolas," by Juan Soriano, oil on canvas, 23 1/4 by 34 inches, 1959

The auction contains three fine paintings by Juan Soriano (1920-2006), all from the collection of Frank and Jayne Fernandez. Lot 47 is an oil on canvas entitled "hormigas y amapolas (ants and poppies)." It measures 23 1/4 by 34 inches and was painted in 1959. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $47,500. Lot 43, "Variaciones sobre Courbet," is a Soriano oil on canvas that measures 36 1/2 by 69 inches. Painted in 1961, it has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $35,000.

"Diana cazadona" by Soriano

Lot 44, "Diana cazadona," by Juan Soriano, oil on canvas, 70 1/2 by 41 1/2 inches, 1958

Lot 44 is a 70 1/2-by-41 1/2-inch oil on canvas by Soriano entitled "Diana cazadona." Painted in 1958, it has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $43,750.

"Gallo Blanco" by Rodriguez

Lot 7, "Gallo Blanco," by Mariano Rodriguez,oil on canvas,311/2 by 39 1/2 inches, 1963

One of the most painterly works in the auction is Lot 7, "Gallo Blanco (White Rooster)," by Mariano Rodriguez (1912-1990). An oil on canvas that was painted in 1963, it measures 31 1/2 by 39 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $56,250.

One of the best paintings in the auction is Lot 57, "Un antepasado de Juarez inaugura Mitla," by Francisco Toledo (b. 1940). A watercolor, sand and collage on Fabriano paper, it was created in 1986 and measures 19 1/2 by 27 5/8 inches. It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.

"Excited Youth" by Segui

Lot 64, "Excited Youth," by Antonio Segui, oil and pastel on canvas, 59 by 63 inches, 1990

Antonio Sequi (b. 1934) is an Argentinian artist who creates large caricatures of darrk urban scenes. Lot 64 is entitled "Excited Youth" and is anoil and pastel on canvas that measures 59 by 63 inches. Created in 1990, it has an estimate of $40,000 to $50,000. It sold for $52,500.

Lot 59, "Foret tropicale (dedans)," by Armando Morales, oil and beeswax on canvas, 63 3/4 by 79 1/4 inches, 1992, left; Lot 16, "Couple Antillais, by Agustin Cardenas, bronze, 88 1/2 inches high, 1957, center; Lot 28, "Fruits," by Armando Morales, oil and beeswaxon canvas, 38 1/2 by 51 1/4 inches, 1983, right

Lot 16 is a very fine, Noguchiesque bronze sculpture by Agustin Cardenas (1927-2001). The 88 1/2-inch high work was executed in 1957 and has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $194,500. Lot 28 is a fine and large still life of fruits by Armando Morales (b. 1927) that was painted in 1983 and is an oil and beeswax on canvas that measures 38 1/2 by 51 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It failed to sell. Lot 59 is a large painting of a forest by Morales that measures 63 3/4 by 79 1/4 inches and was painted in 1992. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $446,500.

Another fine sculpture by Cardenas was placed in front of the entrance to Christie's during the auction's exhibition. Lot 32, it was an 80 3/4 inch high white marble sculpture that was created in 1994. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $206,500.

Lot 27, "Grupo frente al mar," a bronze sculpture, 75 inches high, of three standing people, by Francisco Zuniga (1912-1998), a competent but very repetitive Mexican artist, has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $1,202,500. It was created in 1984.

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2007 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2007 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review Article on the Spring 2004 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2001 Latin American Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the November 19, 2001 Latin American Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Latin American Art evening Auction at Sotheby's in the spring of 2001

See The City Review article on the Latin American Art evening auction at Christie's, May 30, 2001

See The City Review article on the Fall 2000 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2000 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1999 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring, 1999 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on The Latin American Sale at Christie's in New York in June, 1999

Recap of Pre-Columbian Art auction at Sotheby's, Nov. 23, 1998

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