American Art auction at Sotheby's has a good range of works by
many important masters as well as some stunning paintings by lesser
for example, is a huge and striking oil on canvas by Sergio Hernández
(b. 1957). An oil and sand on linen, it measures 70 7/8 by 118
1/8 inches and was executed in 1995. It has a modest estimate
of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $48,000 including the
premium as do all the results mentioned in this article. Born
in Oxaca, Mexico, the artist, according to the catalogue entry,
"is known for his technical mastery as well as his use of
movement and energy." "He uses animal and human figures,"
it continued, "as symbols of a struggle for survival and
uses different textures to give them a three-dimensional feeling."
This work seems like a road map for a mythic world of lost but
not humorless souls.
If one were
to mix the best earthy works by Rufino Tamayo and the most surrealistic
works by Matta, one might end up with Lot 137, "Brotes-Sprouts,"
by Agustin Fernandez (b. 1928). An oil on canvas that measures
29 7/8 by 51 1/8 inches, it was executed in 1955. Although its
rich palette has little to do with Arshile Gorky, surely Gorky
would have found this work appealing. It is extremely painterly
and one feels one could get a nice sun tan from looking at this
work for a while. It has a modest estimate $18,000 to $22,000.
It failed to sell.
was born in Havana and began private drawing lessons at the age
of 12. He would go on to Paris where the catalogue noted that
"his art was guided by Enrique Senal, Roberto Matta and the
independent surrealists. He eventually settled in New York in
(1899-1991) is represented by four good works in this auction,
Lots 18, 10 and 40A and 44. Lot 18, "Figure in White"
has an unusually bright, white and limited palette for Tamayo
who is best known for his reddish and earthy tones. An oil and
sand on canvas that was executed in 1975, it is a very strong
work and has a modest estimate of $225,000 to $275,000. It
sold for $220,800.
Tamayo is Lot 10, "Nueva York Desde La Terraza," a 20
3/8-by-34-3/8-inch oil on canvas that was painted in 1937. It
was once in the collection of Lester Wolfe and has been widely
exhibited. The catalogue observes that Tamayo infrequently makes
use of narrative content in his works and that here he portrays
himself and his wife, Olga, on a terrace looking at the Manhattan
skyline with two large watermelon slices on a table. Watermelons
would figure prominently in much of his oeuvre during his long
career. The lot has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,000,000. It
sold for $904,000.
Lot 4, "Frutera
Colmada," is a still life with watermelon and pineapple by
Tamayo. Dated 1928, it is an oil an canvas that measures 26 3/8
by 18 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.
It sold for $444,800.
Lot 44 is
an imposing and handsome sculpture by Tamayo entitled "Monumental
Al Héroe Desconocido (Monument to the Unknown Hero."
Executed in 1989, it is 80 inches high and is steel with a unique
grey patina. It is number 2/3 and has an estimate of $90,000 to
$120,000. It sold for $84,000.
numerous works by Claudio Bravo (b. 1935) in the auction, most
notably Lot 13, "White Package," a large and very fine
oil on compressed wood. It measures 39 3/8 by 59 inches and is
dated 1968. It has an estimate of $900,000 to $1,000,000. It
sold for $1,016,000.
Varo (1908-1963) is a very fine, important and poetic Surrealist.
Lot 22, "Los Hilos Del Destino," is an interesting oil
on masonite that was painted circa 1956 and measures 23 5/8 by
13 7/8 inches. It has an estimate of $240,000 to $280,000. It
failed to sell. Varo was born in Gerona, Spain and moved to
Paris in 1937 where she was introduced to the Surrealists and
exhibited with them that year. She moved to Mexico in 1940.
Lot 11 is another Varo,
A tempera on board,it measures 14 7/8 by 10 1/4 inches. Executed
in 1944, it has an estimate of $130,000 to $160,000. It
Matta is represented by several
late works that are not as amorphous as his early works but just
striking work by the great Surrealist Matta (1911-2002) is Lot
28, "Oeurope Meme," an oil on canvas that measures 81
7/8 by 116 1/8 inches. Executed in 1989, it has a conservative
estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It failed to sell.
some of his late work is a bit garish, this is an extremely rich
and painterly work that would make Jean Dubuffet smile. Perhaps
a soccer game, it is extremely animated and dramatic.
is a simpler but more violent composition by Matta that he painted
in 1987. Entitled "Role Renverse," it is an oil and
acrylic on canvas that measures 62 3/4 by 92 1/2 inches. Here
Matta almost seems influenced by Wilfredo Lam in the outlines
of the grotesque figures but what is quite interesting is the
right half of the painting where he has employed bright colored
squiggles to add vibrancy and energy to the work. It has a very
modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It failed to sell.
large late Matta is Lot 53, "Leda Demain," an oil on
canvas that measures 56 1/4 by 81 1/4 inches. Executed in 1983,
it has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for
$78,000. It is yet another glimpse into the artist's very
wild and formidable imagination.
Lam (1902-1982) delights in spiky, surreal figures usually floating
in monochromatic backgrounds. Lot 23, "Grand Composition,"
is a fine example of his style. An oil and charcoal on canvas,
it measures 51 1/8 by 63 3/8 inches. It was executed in 1966 and
has an estimate of $180,000 to $200,000. It sold for $355,200.
good Lam example is Lot 121, "Personages," an oil on
canvas that measures 19 5/8 by 15 7/8 inches. Executed in 1975,
it has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $36,000.
is even more effective, perhaps because of its white background.
This Lam is a charcoal and pastel on Fabriano paper that measures
30 by 22 1/8 inches. Executed in 1969, it has a modest estimate
of $20,000 to $25,000. It sold for $30,000.
"Nahuatl," is a very powerful work by David Alfaro Siqueiros
(1896-1974). An acrylic and mixed media on paper mounted on wood,
it measures 40 by 26 1/8 inches and was executed in 1965. It has
a very conservative estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold
Gerzso (1915-2000) is one of the great Latin American abstract
artists. Lot 41, "Paisaje: Naranja-Azul-Verde," is a
fine work by him that is an oil on masonite that measures 23 5/8
by 32 inches. Executed in 1974, it has a modest estimate of $50,000
to $60,000. It failed to sell.
"Paisaje Verde No. 1," is another Gerzo that is a more
complex but less colorful composition. An oil on masonite, it
measures 23 3/4 by 31 7/8 inches and was executed in 1969. It
has an estimate of $50,000 to $60,000. It sold for $78,000.
(1891-1984) is another fine Latin American abstract artist, but
his style is more obviously influenced by Latin American cultural
history. Lot 111, Luna Menguante," is a good work by him
that is acrylic and petroplastic on parchment mounted on polished
wood. It measures 31 3/8 by 23 3/8 inches. Executed in 1972, it
has an estimate of $35,000 to $45,000. It sold for $60,000.
"Ubiquity," is another good Mérida. It is mixed
media on Tahitian paper mounted on masonited. It measures 21 by
15 inches and was executed in 1976. It has an estimate of $25,000
to $30,000. It sold for $21,600.
Toledo (b. 1940) is an artist of high consistency, brilliant palettes,
and fabulous technique. Lot 122 is typical of him. Entitled "Al
Galope," it is a watercolor and ink on paper that measures
8 1/4 by 10 3/4 inches. Executed circa 1970, it has a modest estimate
of $18,000 to $22,000. It failed to sell.
Fernando Botero (b. 1933) is an
sculptures are more impressive than his paintings perhaps because
his "inflated" style is more sensuous in sculpture.
(His paintings, of course, are extremely amusing and delightful
and fine, too.) Lot 19, "Little Bird on a Perch," is
a very fine work by Botero that was executed in 1988. It has an
estimate of $125,000 to $175,000 and is number 2/2. It failed
"Llantas," is a group of five rubber tires whose treads
have been carved in bas-relief by Betsabee Romero (b. 1963). Executed
in 2001, the lot, which is very striking, has a modest estimate
of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $42,000.
has elected to hold its Spring 2004 Latin American Art auction
in Paris rather than in New York.