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Christie's Latin American Evening Sale Totals $14,691,900 - Botero Leads Sale
A sculpture titled "Reclining Woman" by Colombia's Fernando Botero was among works for auction at Christie's in New York. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie's highly anticipated Latin American Sale totaled $14,691,900, led by an exceptional selection of works by artists representing 15 countries. Six new world auction records were set for Oswaldo Guayasamín, Victor Manuel, José Clemente Orozco, León Ferrari, and Javier Marin, and for a work on paper by Fernando Botero. The sale was 89% sold by lot and 90% by value.

Leading the sale was Fernando Botero’s Mujer fumando, a glorious, monumental bronze from 1987, which fetched $1,142,500 – the second highest price achieved for a sculpture by the artist. An iconic example of one of the artist’s most beloved themes, Mujer fumando depicts a sumptuous reclining nude who embodies Botero’s own interpretation of the feminine ideal. Christie’s now dominates the market for works across all media by Botero, with world auction records for a painting, a sculpture and a work on paper by the artist.

Botero’s Mother and Child, 1990, a rare and exquisite work on paper, sold for $614,500 – a new world auction record for a work in this medium by the artist. Considered one of the finest examples of his work on paper, the gleaming, transparent washes of color and maternal theme discreetly nod to both the technical and thematic legacy of the artist’s art historical references.

A superb group of major paintings from the 1940s and 50s by the Surrealist master, Matta, all presented for the first time at auction, were 100% sold. Leading this impressive selection of works was a 1948 painting entitled Crucisphere, which totaled $398,500. This work was one of the highlights exhibited at the artist’s MoMA retrospective in 1957. An exceptional result was achieved for Qui insuffle le printemps, 1952-1958, which sold for $494,500. Other works included Eupure, 1944, which realized $386,500; and Horror is not Truth, 1948, which realized $146,500. Another Chilean master, Claudio Bravo, achieved the second highest price of the sale with $722,500 for White, Blue and Yellow Papers, a luminous, transcendental and other-worldly work from his famous series depicting creased, colored paper.

The demand for Mexican modernist artists was strong, led by a fine group of paintings by Rufino Tamayo. A 1960 masterpiece by Tamayo, Mujeres, was purchased for $698,500. Another notable highlight of the evening was his powerful and dramatic Pájaros, a work from the 1940s painted during the Second World War, which realized $566,500.

Sculptural works enjoyed spirited bidding throughout the sale, with additional offerings from Botero drawing top prices for the medium. Horse with saddle, a bronze figure of a rotund horse, achieved $338,500, followed by Reclining Woman, executed in 2003, which sold for $242,500. The Venezuelan artist Gego’s refined sculpture Untitled, No. 17, a remarkable work comprised of splayed steel wires from her series Líneas paralelas, achieved $182,500. Matta’s L’Impensable (Grand personage), an abstract bronze figure, sold for $134,500.

A solid ensemble of Cuban art also achieved strong prices. Wifredo Lam’s Sans titre, (1946-47) realized $662,500. A striking and elegant image, the painting depicts one of Lam’s signature anthropomorphic hybrid creatures. Les Jumeaux, 1944, an earlier work on paper, realized $236,500. Other important works by Cuban artists included Victor Manuel’s Carnaval, a street festival scene, which set a new world auction record for the artist at $182,500; Cundo Bermúdez’s La flautista, circa 1950, a refined and painterly homage to a solitary flutist which sold for $146,500; Tomás Sánchez’s mystical Silencio a las tres, 2001 fetched $290,500; and a contemplative, sublime work by Julio Larraz, The Moorish Guard, 1978, sold for $104,500.

Works by the Kinetic and Op art movement performed exceptionally well. The section included paintings by Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie No. 2266, which achieved $182,500, and Rond et jaune, by Jesús Rafael Soto 1969, which fetched $242,500. Another work by Soto, Escritura blanca al centro soared above its estimate and realized $362,500. Roberto Aizenberg’s Pintura, 1963, achieved $86,000 and another Pintura, from 1971-75, sold for $74,500. Both are exceptional works rooted in Aizenberg’s study of architecture and inspired by his fascination with metaphysical cities.

Uruguayan artist, Joaquín Torres-García’s Navío constructivo, 1934, an evocative work, inspired by his own trans-Atlantic travel from his native land to Europe fetched $362,500. A pair of works by the Ecuadorian artist, Oswaldo Guayasamín, yielded strong results. His Study for Cartuchos from the Huacayñán Series, a brilliantly-colored portrait of a young woman, sold for $98,500, setting a new world auction record for the artist. A second Guayasamín work, Flowers, sold for $43,750.

Additional highlights included León Ferrari’s Historia de Amor, which sold for $43,750, a record for a work on paper by the artist; Gunther Gerzso’s Mitología, 1961, which achieved $104,500; and Helio Oiticica’s, Metaesquema, which sold for $122,500.

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November 18, 2009

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