By Carter B. Horsley
This auction of Latin American
Art at Christie's in the Spring of 2009 is highlighted by a major
work by Leonora Carrington, several fine paintings by Rufino Tamayo,
a group of superb Mattas, a self-portrait by Diego Rivera, two
fine paintings by Wilfredo Lam and a large work by Mario Carreno.
Lot 29 is a large typical mystical
work by Leonora Carrington (b. 1917) entitled "The Giantess."
It is also known as "The Guardian of the Egg." A tempera
on wood panel, it measures 47 1/4 by 27 1/4 inches. It has an
estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,482,500,
includig the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this
article, more than doubling the artist's previous world auction
The catalogue provides the
"An ingenious fabulist
and a humanist in the most universal sense, Carrington has for
more than eighty years plumbed the myteries of an intimate, hermetic
universe of her own creation. As mysterious to herself as she
is to others, she once acknowledged, her\paintings explore themes
of enchangttment and transformation, descrbing a reality at once
magical and miraculous."
Lot 10, "Fuego en el batey,"
is a large painting by Mario Carreno (1913-1999) from the collection
of Milton and Nona Ward. A Duco and oil on wood panel, it measures
48 1/4 by 65 1/2 inches and was painted in 1943. It has an estimate
of $1,000,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $2,188,100. Marreno
was introduced to Duco by David Alfaro Siqueiros came to Cuba
in 1943 and settled at the Sevilla-Biltmore Hotel in Havana where
he painted a panel for the ceiling of the hotel's restaurant and
then secured the help of Carenno who was married at the time to
Cuban heiress Maris Luisa Gomez Mena and Carreno paid Siqueiros's
hotel bill and the family to live with him and his wife at their
Lot 145 is a very striking
graphite, ink and gouache on cardboard by Mario Carreno that has
almost a three-dimensional surface that is quite fascinating.
It measures 16 by 20 inches and was executed in 1945. It has an
estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 15 is a very good work
by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) entitled "Personajes frente
a la ventana." An oil and sand on canvas, it measures 51
1/2 by 38 inches. It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000.
It sold for $280,000.
The best of the Tamayos offered
at this auction is Lot 23, "Dialogo, an oil and sand on canvas
that measures 38 1/2 by 51 1/4 inches. It was painted in 1971
and is being sold by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to benefit
acquisitions of Latin American art. It has been widely published
and exhibited and has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It
failed to sell and was passed at $170,000.
Lot 27 is an oil and sand on
canvas by Tamayo entitled "Child Playing." It measures
49 1/4 by 39 inches. It is another work being sold by the Los
Angele County Museum of Art. It has an estimate of $500,000 to
$700,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $320,000.
Lot 2, "Paraja sobre la
terraza," is a pleasant painting by Tamayo. An oil and sand
on canvas, it measures 51 by 71 inches. It has an estimate of
$500,000 to $700,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $420,000.
The least attractive of Tamayos
is Lot 55, which is entitled "Hombre con un farol."
An oil and sand on canvas, it measures 55 1/4 by 68 3/4 inches.
It has an ambitious estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold
Lot 21 is a large, classic
and very attractive work by Francisco Toledo (b. 1940). Entitled
"Conejo con pescado," it is an oil and sand on canvas
that measures 39 1/4 by 32 inches. It has an estimate of $250,000
to $350,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $170,000.
Another much larger work by
Toledo, Lot 19, entitled "Cangrejos," is much darker
but has a much higher estimate of $450,000 to $650,000. It
failed to sell and was passed at $380,000.
Lot 30 is a very exciting and
dynamic abstraction by Matta that is entitled "Ciel Volant."
An oil on canvas, it measures 44 3/4 by 57 1/2 inches and was
painted in 1957. It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
It sold for $194,500.
Lot 32 is an extremely strong
and very fine painting by Matta entitled "Les Separes vivants."
It is an oil on canvas that measures 40 by 60 inches. It has a
modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $494,500.
In her catalogue comments on
the paiting, Abby McEwen observes:
"Menacing, with sharp-edged
instruments in the place of human hands and disturbing cyclopean
countenances the figures of les separes vivants viscerally
embody the destructive forces unleashed by war. Even as they battle
each other they struggle against the entwining appendages of creatures
ghastly and immaterial in their midst: labyrinthine limbs wrap
around the shoulder of the female figure and the long extended
arm of her partner, threatening to pull them into the enveloping,
illusionistic space behind them thinned layers of eerie, semi-transparent
yellow-green pigment saturate the deep space of the canvas, disorienting
the rational order implied the by architectonic forms and aerial
Another great Matta is Lot
165, an untitled work that is charcoal and pastel on paper. It
measures 38 1/4 by 57 1/4 inches and has a very modest estimate
of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $40,000.
Lot 34 is a strong composition
by Matta (1911-2002) entitled "Black Mirror." An oil
on canvas, it measures 34 by 30 inches and has an estimate of
$180,000 to $220,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $110,000.
The cover illustration of the
catalogue is Lot 13, a self-portrait by Diego Rivera (1886-1957).
An oil on canvas, it mesures 24 by 17 inches. It has an estimate
of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $1,022,500.
Lot 28 is a great painting
by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982) entitled "Oiseau sur la terre."
An oil on canvas, it measures 19 3/4 by 24 inches. It has an estimate
of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $220,000.
Lot 251 is an untitled oil
on canvas by Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959). It measures 25 1/4 by
32 inches and was painted in 1958. it has a modest estimate of
$25,000 to $30,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 43 is a large abstraction
by Alfredo Hlito (1923-1993) that is an acrylic on canvas that
measures 70 1/2 by 47 1/4 inches. It is entitled "Efigie"
and has an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. It sold for $37,500.
Lot 62 is a large, fairly abstract
work by Guillermo Kuitca (b. 1961). Entitled "La boca del
tigre," it is an acrylic on canvas and measures 55 by 61
1/2 inches. It hasan estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It failed
to sell and was passed at $55,000.
Lot 16 is a dramatic work by
David Alfaro Siqueiros entitled "El asenso." A pyroxilin
on wood panel and iron frame, it measures 48 1.4 by 37 3/8 inches.
It has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $80,000.
One of the most spectacular
works in the auction is Lot 57, "El Taller," an oil
and alkyd on canvas by Guillermno Munoz Vera (b. 1956). It measures
118 by 92 1/2 inches and has the light and technique of Claudio
Bravo. It has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for
Lot 253 is an interesting abstraction
by Alice Rahon (1904-1987) entitled "Lluvia in Paris."
An oil and sand on canvas laid down on masonite, it measures 12
3/4 by 16 3/8 inches. It has a modest estimate of $7,000 to $9,000.
It failed to sell.
The auction has three strong,
vibrant abstractions by Juan Soriano (1920-2006). Lot 112 is entitled
"El Arbol amarillo." It is an oil on canvas that measures
39 5/8 by 26 inche and was executed in 1960. It has an estimate
of $25,000 to $35,000. It failed to sell.
One of the strongest works
in the auction is Lot 115, "This is Mein Kampf," by
Juan O'Gorman, a graphite and gouache on paper that measures 7
1/8 by 10 inches. Executed in 1960, it has an estimate of $12,000
to $18,000. It sold for $20,000.
Carlos Merida (1891-1984) has
three works in the auction that are departure from his typical
abstractions. Lot 137 is entitled "Window to the Cosmos"
and is a Duco and oil on heavy paper laid down on panel. It measures
22 1/4 by 30 1/4 inches and was executed in 1966. It is being
sold by the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art. It has an estimate
of $20,000 to $25,000. It sold for $20,000.
Sergio Hernandez (b. 1957)
is represented in the auction by three excellent watercolors in
Lot 126. The one illustrated above is an untitled work by the
artist that is a watercolor on handmade paper that measures 19
1/2 by 25 3/4 inches. Executed in 1990, the lot has a modest estimate
of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $8,750.