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Latin American Art

Sotheby's

7PM, May 24, 2006 (Lots 1-50)

10:15 AM, May 25, 2006 (Lots 60-192)

Sale 8208

"Roots" by Kahlo

Lot 6, "Roots," by Frida Kahlo, oil on metal, 11 7/8 by 19 3/4 inches, 1943

By Carter B. Horsley

This evening auction of Latin American Art at Sotheby's May 24, 2006, is highlighted by an important painting by Frida Kahlo, a superb work by Remedios Varo, a very good and large painting and a lovely sculpture by Francisco Botero, and good works by Rufino Tamayo, Gunther Gerzso and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Lot 6, "Roots," by Frida Kahlo, an oil on metal that was executed in 1943, has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $5,616,000 including the buyer's premium, as do all results mentioned in this article, to an anonymous bidder on the telephone, setting a new record for a Latin American work of art at auction and for the artist at auction.

The evening sale totaled $18,658,800, the highest total ever for a sale of Latin American Art at auction, far above its pre-sale estimate of $11,900,000 to $16,200,000, and set records for a number of artists, including Francisco Zúñiga, Tomás Sánchez, Luis Tomasello and Edmund Darch Lewis, and also set a record for a Botero sculpture at auction and tied the record for Botero at auction. The two-day sale, which was expected to bring $14,600,000 to $19,800,000, brought a total of $22,001,200.

The Kahlo painting has been widely exhibited and published and has been requested for the Frida Kahlo exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of her birth being organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which will show it in the summer of 2007 and it will then travel to Philadelphia and San Franciso.

The catalogue provides the following commentary by Hayden Herrera:

"Roots, 1943, is one of Frida Kahlo's least anguished and most beautiful self-portaits. Like its counterpart, My Nurse and I, 1937, it is a passionate expression of Kahlo's deep identification with nature. In the earlier painting Frida is an infant suckling at her Mexican Indian wet nurses's plant-like breast. Fr9m this earth mother, she imbibes not only her Indian heritage, but also the essence of her native land. In Roots, on the other hand, it is Frida who nourishes that land by giving birth to a vine. Curiously, given the painting's title, the vine has no visible roots. It must, therefore, be rooted in Frida, but Frida, floating just above a barren landscape and painted in a much large scale, is rootless, as in a dream. The year she painted Roots, Kahlo was engrossed in a project that would bind her to her husband, Diego Rivera, and that would connect both spouses to the Mexican earth. In 1942, on a piece of land bought with Kahlo's money in a section of Mexico City called the Pedregal (meaning stony ground), the Riveras began to build a temple for Rivera's collection of pre-Columbian idols....Kahlo adored the Pedregal's rough, uningratiating expanse of grey. pitted rocks, and it is this landscape that appears in Roots....The stems of the vine in Roots....have no thorns. Instead this vine has thirteen cut off stems. These leafless stems might stand for Kahlo's losses - her unborn children, her wounded body, her lost loves...."

The lot, which was once owned by Dolores Olmedo, a lover of Diego Rivera and a trustee of his and Kahlo's estates, has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It is being sold by Marilyn Oshman of Houston.

Portrait of Diego Rivera by Marevna

Lot 74, "Portrait of Diego Rivera," by Marie Vorobieff Marevna," oil on canvas, 26 by 20 inches

The auction has a strong portrait of Diego Rivera, Lot 74, by Marie Vorobieff Marevna (1892-1984). An oil on canvas, it measures 26 by 20 inches. It has a modest estimate of $18,000 to $22,000. It sold for $39,000. The artist was born in Russia as Marie Vorobieff-Stebelska and studied at the Stroganov Art Academy in Moscow and then traveled to Italy where she was given the nickname Marevna by Maxim Gorky after a Russian fairy sea princess. The catalogue notes that she "is widely accredited as the first female cubist painter and she is noted for combining elements of cubism with pointilism in her works," adding that In 1912, while in Paris, Marevna became friends with some of the greatest artist's of the early twentieth century, such as Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso and Soutine." "There," it continued, "she also met Mexican cubist and muralist Diego Rivera, and together they had a daughter, Marika."

"El Camino Arido" by Varo

Lot 9, "El Camino Arido," by Remedios Varo, vinyl resin on thin board mounted on masonite, 28 by 8 3/8 inches, 1962

Remedios Varo is one of Latin American's great woman artists. "El Camino Arido," Lot 9, is a 28-by-8 3/8-inch vinyl resin on thin board mounted on masonite that is a great and beautiful work by her that was executed in 1962.

Widely exhibited and published, it was sold at Sotheby's in New York May 31, 2001 for $236,750 when it had an estimate of $175,000 to $225,000. The estimate this time is $275,000 to $325,000. It sold for $352,000.

"Painted the year before death," the 2001 catalogue entry for the lot observed, "Remedios Vario's Camino árido may well be the artist's swan song. In point of craft she was never better; the delicate draftsmanship and subtle brushwork that characterize her best paintings are here married to a pulsating spirituality, causing the painting to glow with an inner life. Varo's search for enlightenment included eastern hermetic philosophy, and is suggested by the allusion to Chinese landscape paintings in the rendering of the cloudy mountaintops that form the backdrop to Camino árido. Camino árido may perhaps be best understood as the pendant to a work of the previous year, La Llamada or The Call (private collection). A frequent figure in these late works is a mystical sage - often Varo's own self-portrait - trying to engage, energize, enlighten a mass of respectful but static disciples. "

The "sage" in this work is a beautiful, ghostly figure wearing a sensational dress and cape seemingly made out of luminous layers of stones. She walks with a cane and is very erect and thin. Small rocks seem to be either falling or rising at her side. The foreground consists of many layers of rock, echoing the layers of her dress. This is a haunting work of mystery and beauty and one of the best paintings to be offered this spring auction season.

"The 19th Hole" by Carrington

Lot 8, "Un Sueno en El Bosque (The 19th Hole)," by Leonora Carrington, oil on canvas, 45 by 64 inches, circa 1958

Leonora Carrington (b. 1917) is another great woman Latin American artist. Lot 8, "Un Sueno en El Bosque (The 19th Hole), is a large oil on canvas that was executed about 1958. It measures 45 by 64 inches and has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $553,600.

Carrington's surreal landscapes and figures conjure Boschian worlds and the macabre but usually do not convey dread but mischief, if not wit.

Untitled by Carrington

Lot 108, "Untitled," by Leonora Carrington, gouache, ink and graphite on paper, 9 1/2 by 12 3/8 inches, circa 1942

Another work by Carrington is Lot 108, an untitled gouache, ink and graphite on paper. It measures 9 1/2 by 12 3/8 inches and was executed circa 1942. It once belonged to Remedios Varo. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $30,000. It sold for $60,000.

"Four Musicians" by Botero

Lot 14, "Four Musicians," by Fernando Botero, oil on canvas, 87 1/8 by 72 3/4 inches

Lot 14 is a large oil on canvas by Fernando Botero (b. 1933) that is entitled "Four Musicians. It measures 87 1/8 by 72 3/4 inches and has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $2,032,000, tying the world auction record for the artist set the night before at Christie's in New York.

Lot 13 is a wonderful bronze sculpture of a bird by Botero. Executed in 1988, it measures 49 by 45 by 53 inches and has an estimate of $500,000 to $600,000. It sold for $1,052,000, an auction record for a sculpture by the artist.

Imaginary landscape by O'Gorman

Lot 101, "Fosilario (Paiusa Imaginario)," by Juan O'Gorman, tempera on masonite, 8 5/8 by 12 5/8, 1943

Lot 101 is an interesting and very lively imaginary landscape by Juan O'Gorman (1905-1982). A tempera on masonite, it measures 8 5/8 by 12 5/8 inches. It was executed in 1943 and has an estimate of $35,000 to $45,000. It sold for $101,000. The catalogue notes that small easel paintings by O'Gorman "are relatively rare." The catalogue notes that "as a young architect, he followed the lead of José Villagrán Garcia in applying the principles of functionalism to buildings in revolutionary Mexico." "He was commissioned by the government to design many schools and in the house he built for Rivera and Kahlo and others, he was the first in Mexico to apply functionalism to private architecture. He also helped organized the School of Construction were architecture was taught from the practical rather than aesthetic viewpoint. He would later repudiate functionalism and turn to organic architecture in which the blending of architecture and landscape is sought, as in his own house built in 1956."

"Ascenso del Hombre en El Paisaje" by Siqueiros

Lot 5, "Ascenso del Hombre en El Paisaje," by David Alfaro Siqueiros, pryoxilin on masonite, 33 1/8 by 23 7/8 inches, 1961

Lot 5 is a very strong and fine pryoxilin on masonite by David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). Entitled "Ascenso del Hombre en El Paisaje," it measures 33 1/8 by 23 7/8 inches and was painted in 1961. It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $132,000.

"Hombre con Pipa" by Siqueiros

Lot 99, "Hombre con Pipa," by David Alfaro Siqueiros, oil on board, 25 1/8 by 20 1/2 inches, 1934

Lot 99 is a very fine portrait of a man with a pipe by Siqueiros. An oil on board, it measures 25 1/8 by 20 1/2 inches and was executed in 1934. While it does not have the remarkable painterliness and impasto of his later works, it is quite lyrical and animated. It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $50,000. It sold for $57,000.

"Santuario" by Gerzso

Lot 18, "Santuario," by Gunther Gerzso, oil on masonite, 16 5/8 by 23 3/8 inches, 1947

Lot 18, "Santuario," is a very beautiful oil on masonite by Gunther Gerzso (1915-2000). It measures 16 5/8 by 23 3/8 inches and was painted in 1947. It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $132,000.

"Dos Personajes" by Tamayo

Lot 4, "Dos Personajes," by Rufino Tamayo, oil on canvas, 37 3/8 by 51 1/4 inches

Lot 4 is an excellent and strong oil on canvas with an exquisite palette by Rufino Tamayo, entitled "Dos Personajes." It measures 37 3/8 by 51 1/4 inches. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $419,200.

"Hombre con Esfera" by Tamayo

Lot 36, "Hombre con Esfera," by Rufino Tamayo, oil on canvas, 35 1/2 by 43 1/2 inches, 1971

Another Tamayo is Lot 36, "Hombre con Esfera," an oil on canvas that measures 35 1/2 by 43 1/2 inches. It was consigned by the Los Angeles County Museum to benefit its acquisition fund of Latin American Art. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $300,000. It sold for $352,000.

"Los Humanos" by Opazo, top; "Coquille Brisée" by Cardenas, bottom

Lot 137, "Los Humanos," by Rodolfo Opazo, oil on canvas, 63 by 121 3/4 inches, 1961, top; Lot 150, "Coquille Brisée," by Agustin Cárdenas, pink marble, 11 3/4 by 19 5/8 by 13 1/4 inches, 1968, bottom

Lot 137 is a large striking work by Rodolfo Opazo (b. 1935). An oil on canvas that measures 63 by 121 3/4 inches, it was executed in 1961. It has a conservative estimate of $22,000 to $28,000. It sold for $42,000. Opazo was born in Chile and his early works, according to the catalogue, were influenced by Surrealism and hold ghost-like figures. He was given a retrospective in 1996 at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago.

Lot 150, "Coquille Brisée," by Agustin Cárdenas is a very beautiful pink marble abstract sculpture. It measures 11 3/4 by 19 5/8 by 13 1/4 inches and was executed in 1968. It has a modest estimate of $22,000 to $28,000. It sold for $26,400.

Untitled wood sculpture by Cardenas

Lot 7, untitled, wood sculpture by Agustin Cárdenas, 17 3/4 inches high, 1959

Lot 7 is a beautiful, untitled wood sculpture by Cárdenas. It was executed in 1959 and is 17 3/4 inches high. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $39,000.

"Colisée" by Canovas

Lot 171, "Colisée," by Fernando Canovas, acrylic and sand on canvas, 62 by 78 1/2 inches, 1999

Lot 171 is an interesting work by Fernando Canovas, entitled "Colisée." An acrylic and sand on canvas, it measures 62 by 78 1/2 inches and was executed in 1999. It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It failed to sell.

"La Barca" by Canovas

Lot 155, "La Barca," by Fernando Canovas, acrylic and metal structures on canvas, 71 by 78 1/2 inches, 1997

Lot 155, "La Barca," is a strong abstraction by Canovas. An acrylic and metal structures on canvas, it was executed in 1997. It measures 71 by 78 1/2 inches. It has a modest estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It failed to sell.

Untitled by Iturria

Lot 154, "Untitled," by Ignacio Iturria," oil on canvas, 51 by 38 1/2 inches, 1991

Lot 154 is a good untitled oil on canvas by Ignaccio Iturria (b. 1949). It was executed in 1991 and measures 51 by 38 1/2 inches. It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $19,200.

s"Yo Soy Quien Soy" by Matta

Lot 12, "Yo Soy Quien Soy ( I Am Who I Am), by Matta, oil on canvas, 79 5/8 by 156 7/8 inches

Lot 12 is a very large and vibrant oil on canvas by Matta (1912-2002). It measures 79 5/8 by 156 7/8 inches and is entitled "Yo Soy Quien Soy (I Am Who I Am). It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $250,000. It sold for $318,400.

Untitled by Lam

Lot 38, untitled, by Wilfredo Lam, oil on canvas, 39 1/4 by 31 5/8 inches, 1974

Lot 38 is a pleasant, untitled oil on canvas by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982). Dated 1974, it measures 39 1/4 by 31 5/8 inches. It has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $204,000.

"Idoli" by Lam

Lot 11, "Idoli," by Wilfredo Lam, oil on canvas, 31 by 40 inches, 1955

Lot 11, "Idoli," is a large and very strong abstraction by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982). An oil on canvas, it is dated 1955 and measures 31 by 40 inches. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It failed to sell.

"Vision de La Conquista" by Ruelas

Lot 70, "Vision de La Conquista," by Julio Ruelas, oil on canvas, 34 7/8 by 52 1/4 inches, 1905

Lot 70 is an interesting work by Julio Ruelas (1870-1907) that is entitled "Vision de La Conquista." An oil on canvas, it measures 34 7/8 by 52 1/4 inches and is dated 1905. It has an estimate of $45,000 to $55,000. It sold for $363,200. Ruelas was born in Mexico and studied in Karlsruhe, Germany and after he returned to Mexico he became the principal illustrator for the Revista Moderna, one of the most prestigious publications in Latin America, according to the catalogue.

"Grande Imant" by Penalba

Lot 41, "Grande Imant," by Alicia Penalba, bronze, numbered 2 of 4, 46 1/4 by 44 inches by 26 inches

Lot 41 is a very strong abstract bronze sculpture by Alicia Penalba (1918-1982). Numbered 2 of four, it measures 46 1/4 by 44 by 26 inches. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It failed to sell.

Lot 19, "Grupo de Cuatro Mujeres de Pie," is a large bronze sculpture of four women by Franciso Zuniga (1912-1998). Dated 1984, it was number 3 of an edition of three. It measures 80 3/4 by 92 1/2 by 47 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $3,712,000, an auction record for the artist.

Lot 15, "Gracia en la Cascada," by Tomás Sanchez (b. 1948), a 48-inch-square acrylic on canvas, dated 1992, sold for $363,200, an auction record for the artist. It had a high estimate of $200,000.

 

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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