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Latin American Art

Sotheby's

7 PM, November 16, 2010 (Lots 1-66)
10AM, November 17, 2010 (Lots 70-261)

Sale 8681

"Les Abalochas Dansent Pour Dhambala Dieu de l"Unié" by Lam



Lot 14, "Les Abalochas Dansent Purt Dhambala, Dieu de L'Unité," by Wilfredo Lam, oil on canvas, 83 7/8 by 96 inches, 1970
By Carter B. Horsley

The Fall 2010 auction of Latin American Art at Sotheby's is highlighted by several fine works by Wilfredo Lam, Rufino Tamayo, Claudio Bravo and Matta,

The cover illustration of the catalogue is a large and major painting by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982), Lot 14, entitled "Les Abalochas Dansent Purt Dhambala, Dieu de L'Unité." An oil on canvas, it measures 83 7/8 by 96 inches and was executed in 1970.  It has an estimate of $1,750,000 to $2,250,000.  It sold for $2,154,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.  It set a new world auction record for the artist.

After the auction, Carmen Melián, Head of Latin American Art at Sotheby’s said:

“The sale was in part an homage to Wifredo Lam. The $2.1 million achieved for the cover lot was well deserved and we are thrilled to have once again broken the auction record for this major artist. Les Abalochas is a very special painting that brought together many aspects of his life – Cubism, surrealism, his Afro-Cuban heritage and his association with the avant-garde movement CoBrA. One of the high points of the sale was the section of 19th century Mexican works – the quality was superb and sparked heated competition amongst Mexican collectors and many new records were set in both sessions. Equally sought-after was the recently rediscovered panel by the father of abstraction in Venezuela, Alejandro Otero, which also brought a record price. The success of surrealism continued in the day session where there were strong prices for the surrealist master Matta as well as a number of records for contemporary artists including Juan Manuel Hernández and León Ferrari.”

"Latin American abstraction continued its surge in popularity. Six bidders competed for Alejandro Otero’s lost masterpiece Coloritmo 9, which set a new record for the artist when it sold for $752,500 (est.
$250/350,000). Records were also set for Luis Tomasello, whose Atmosphere Chromoplastique Nº 281 brought $170,500 (est. $80/100,000) and Abraham Palatnik, when his Progressão-42A sold for $182,500 (est. $150/200,000)."

"Mexican paintings from the 19th century achieved a series of record prices - El Requiebro by José Agustín Arrieta and Cruzando El Lago De Texcoco,Con Volcanes by Eugenio Landesio, sold for $482,500 each (est. $180/220,000); while Indio Con Traje De Gala En Puesto De Comida by Édouard-Henri-Théophile Pingret more than doubled the high estimate to fetch $302,500 (est. $90/120,000). All three were part of a group of paintings from the collection of Mrs. Vera da Costa Autrey, which also included Leonora Carrington’s Snake Bite Floripondio which soared past the high estimate to sell for $338,500 (est. $150/200,000)."

"The day session included a number of strong and often record-setting prices for living artists. El Encuentro I and II, a 2008 diptych by Juan Manuel Hernández sold for $107,500, double the pre-sale estimate and a new record for the artist (est. $40/60,000). Also setting a new auction record was Descala by Cildo Meirles which fetched $68,500 – more than three times the high estimate (est. $18/22,000). León Ferrari is one of Argentina’s most important modernist painters who, along with Mira Schendel, was the subject of the 2009 MOMA exhibition Tangled Alphabets; a record was set for the artist when an Untitled work from 2003 sold for $68,500 (est. $45/55,000)."

The catalogue provides the following commentary on the Lam painting (Lot 14) by Dr. Julia P. Herzberg:

"As an insider, Lam embraced Afro-Cuban subjects at a time when few artists in the western world were engaged in dialogues addressing cross-cultural, ethnic, and spiritial themes....His practice slowly but undeniably changed the direction and understanding of Modernism.  Master of line, for, and color, the artist absorbed the lessons of cubism, expanded the parameters of surrealism, and mediated the fine line between figuration and abstraction.  His work, which expresses human emotions - pain, suffering, loss - and references war, independence movements, and spirtuality, became a paradigm for future generations of artists who have expressed their socio-politico-spiritual histories in visual form....The word Abalochas...is most likely a phonetic variant of the more common babaloches...or priests of a deity in the Afro-Cuban religion known alternately in Cuba as Lucumi, Regla de Ocha, Saneria, or Orisha worship.  ....Damballah is the creole name in Haiti for the rainbow-serpent, whose consort, Ayida Whedo, is also a serpent of the sky.   In worship the intermingling of Damballah's body with that of Ayida in the form of two snakes is a sign of union and estacsy..., a spiritual state suggested in part through the title and hinted at in the iconography of the painting.....He became acquainted with the vodou worship of Haitiains living and working in Cuba."  

Lam, she continued, attended Vodou ceremonies with André Bretton and the ceremonies were, acording to one expert, "a vibrant, sophisticated synthesis of the tradiitonal religions of Dahomey, Yoruba and Kongo with an infusion of Roman Catholicism."

"Untitled (Figura Vegetal)" by Lam

Lot 35, "Untitled (Figura Vegetal)," by Wilfredo Lam, oil on canvas, 32 3/8 by 28 1/2 inches, 1950

Another very strong painting by Lam is Lot 35, "Untitled (Figura Vegetal)."  An oil on canvas that measures 32 3/8 by 28 1/2 inches, it was painted in 1950.  While it is composition is much simpler, it is an extremely bold and strong work.  It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It was passed at $200,000.

"Nu à La Chaise" by Lam

Lot 31, "Nu à La Chaise," by Wilfredo Lam, tempera on paper laid down on canvas,  65 by 38 1/2 inches, 1942

An earlier fine work by Lam is Lot 31, "Nu à La Chaise," a tempera on paper laid down on canvas.  It was executed in 1942 and measures 65 by 38 1/2 inches.  The catalogue notes that this work is a synthesis of the interiors he painted in Paris, where he was friendly with Picasso and the Surrealists.  The nude, the entry noted, is "drawn in a sinuous and sensual manner that breathes the air of the tropics."  It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.  It was withdrawn.
"Triumphéros" by Matta

Lot 140, "Triumphéros," by Matta, oil on canvas, 82 by 159 1/4 inches, 1985

Matta (1911-2002) was a major member of the Surrealist circle and the auction has several excellent works by him.

Lot 140, "Triumphéros," is an extremely impressive late and large work.  An oil on canvas, it measures 82 by 159 1/4 inches andwas executed in 1985.  It is from a series of monumental works relating to Greek mythology and as such contains more recognizable figures and forms than much of his earlier oeuvre.  This work bears aesthetic comparison with Picasso's "Guernica."  It has a very modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $422,500.

""L'Exampleur" by Matta

Lot 13, "L'Exampleur," by Matta, oil on canvas, 56 1/4 by 78 3/8 inches, 1949

Lot 13 is a superb 1949 oil on canvas by Matta entitled "L'Exampleur."  It measures 56 1/4 by 78 3/8 inches and was once in the collection of Roland Penrose in London.  

The catalogue provides the following excellent commentary by Marysol Nieves:

"Although Matta would not join the Surrealist group until 1938, Penrose and he most certainly met as early as 1936 when the young Chilean artist was living in London and working in the studios of the Hungarian expatriate Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and the German architect Walter Gropius....semi-abstract topographies that reveal biomorphic forms set against a gelatinous background evocative of ethereal and seemingly infinite inner and outer worlds in a perreneal state of chaos and transformation.  Washes of pale color - whites, grays, and greens - reveal Matta's unorthodox approach to painting and his penchant for dabbing pigment onto the pictorial surface with his fingers and then using a sponge or cloth soaked with turpentine to create thin, diaphonouos layers of color.  The effects are potent such as at the bottom of the painting where the excess splatters and dips of translucent pigment expose a complex three-pronged mechanistic form suggestive of a transformer or cauldron simultaneously having with destructive and regenerative power.  Subtle bursts of bright red and gold hues punctuate the composition evincing a dramatic, staccato-like effect.  While totemic corporeal forms further confound the spectator and imbue this painting with a sense of mystery and unease....Here and eleswhere in Matta's oeuvre during the 1940s and 1950s machine-like forms are equated with human bodies suggesting the artist's mistrust of technology and its dehumanizing effects."  

The lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.  It failed to sell.

"Incatation de l'Urgence" by Matta

Lot 164 "Incatation de l'Urgence," by Matta, oil on canvas, 23 5/8 by 28 3/4 inches, 1959

Lot 164 is a very fine and sharply delineated composition by Matta entitled "Incatation de l'Urgence."  An oil on canvas, it measures 23 5/8 by 28 3/4 inches.  It was painted in 1959 and has a very modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $104,500.


"The Avoiders" by Matta

Lot 11, "The Avoiders," by Matta, oil on linen, 48 3/8 by 71 1/2 inches, circa 1950

Lot 11 is a large mechanistic-style composition by Matta that was executed circa 1950.  Entitled "The Avoiders," it is an oil linen that measures 48 3/8 by 71 1/2 inches.  It was formerly in the collection of Albert Lewin, the director of the film, "The Picture of Dorian Gray."  Lewin was married to the wife of art dealer Sidney Janis.  The lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.  It sold for $242,500.

"Untitled" by Matta

Lot 111, "Untitled," by Matta, oil on canvas, 40 1/2 by 32 5/8 inches, 1965

Lot 111 is a very good composition by Matta that is an oil on canvas that measures 40 1/2 by 32 5/8 inches.  It was painted in 1965 and has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $62,500.

"Dos Mujeres" by Tamayo

Lot 21, "Dos Mujeres," by Rufino Tamayo, oil and sand on canvas, 37 1/2 by 51 inches, 1979

Lot 21 is a good oil and sand on canvas by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) entitled "Dos Mujeres."  It measures 37 12 by 51 inches and was painted in 1979. It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000.  It was passed at $290,000.

"Paisaje" by Siquieros

Lot 169, "Paisaje," David Alfaro Siqueiros,  pyroxilin on masonite, 23  1/4 by 47 1/4 inches, 1971

Lot 169 is a strong landscape by David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974).  A pyroxilin on masonite, it measures 23 1/4 by 47 1/4 inches and was painted in 1971.  It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $80,500.

"Occult Scene (Jacob's Ladder)" by Carrington

Lot 10, "Occult Scene (Jacob's Ladder)," by Leonora Carrington, oil on canvas, 39  5/8 by 27 5/8 inches, 1955

Lot 10 is a good oil on canvas by Leonora Carrington (b. 1917) that is entitled "Occult Scene (Jacob's Ladder)."  It measures 39 5.8 by 27 5/8 inches and was painted in 1955.  It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It failed to sell.

"Snake Bite Floriponndio" by Carrington

Lot 65, "Snake Pite Floripondio," by Leonora Carrington, oil on canvas, 23 1/2 by 31 1/2 inches, 1975

Another interesting work by Carrington is Lot 65, "Snake Bite Floripondio," an oil on canvas that measures 23 1/2 by 31 1/2 inches.  It was painted in 1975 and has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.  It sold for $338,500.

"La Ofrenda," by Rivera

Lot 92, "La Ofrenda," by Diego Rivera, watercolor on rice paper, 10 3/4 by 15 inches, 1950
 
Lot 92 is a very fine watercolor on rice paper by Diego Rivera.  Entitled "La Ofrenda," it measures 10 3/4 by 15 inches and was painted in 1950.  It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $43,750.

"Untitled (Paquettes)" by Bravo

Lot 6, "Untitled (Paquettes)," by Claudio Bravo, oil, graphite and pastel on paper laid down on wood panel, 27 1/2 by 39 1/2 inches, 1965

Lot 6 is a very nice painting of packages by Claudio Bravo (b. 1936).  An oil, graphite and pastel on paper laid down on wood panel, it measures 27 1/2 by 39 1/2 inches.  It was painted in 1965 and has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.  It failed to sell.

"Paisaje" by Gerzso

Lot 12, "Paisaje," by Gunther Gerzso, oil on canvas, 28 7/8 by 39 3/4 inches, 1966

Lot 12 is a strong abstraction by Gunther Gerzso.  An oil on canvas, it measures 28 7/8 by 39 3/4 inches.  It was painted in 1966 and has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.  It sold for $266,500.

"Ocre-Azul-Verde" by Gerzso

Lot 59, "Ocre-Azul-Verde," by Gerzso, oil on masonite, 15 by 24 inches, 1971

Another Gerzso is Lot 59, an oil on masonite that is entitled "Ocre-Azul-Verde."  It measures 15 by 24 inches and was painted in 1971.  It has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000.  It failed to sell.

"Desnudo Contra Un Zocalo Azul" by Morales

Lot 16, "Desnudo Contra Un Zocalo Azul," by Armando Morales, oil on canvas, 38 by 51 1/4 inches, 1983

Lot 16 is a fine oil on canvas by Armando Morales (b. 1927).  Entitled "Desnudo Contra Un Zocalo Azul," it measures  38 by 51 1/4 inches and was painted in 1983.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $242,500.

"Trees III" by Morales
Lot 131, "Trees III," by Armando Morales, oil on canvas, 40 by 32 inches, 1975

Another good work by Morales is Lot 131, "Trees III," an oil on canvas that measures 40 by 32 inches and was painted in 1975.  It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.  It sold for $68,500.

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See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Latin American Art auction at Sotheby's

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

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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

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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

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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 Spring 2000 Latin American Art auction at Christie's

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

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