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1970 Masterpiece by Wifredo Lam to Lead Sotheby's November Latin American Art Sale
Wilfredo Lam, Les Abalochas Dansent Pour Dhambala, dieu de l'unité, 1970. Est. $1.75/2.25 million. Photo: Sotheby's

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced that the highlight of the 16 and 17 November sales of Latin American Art will be Wifredo Lam’s 1970 masterpiece Les Abalochas Dansent Pour Dhambala, dieu de l'unité (est. $1.75/2.25 million). The painting was one of Lam's favorite works and graced the salon of his Italian home in Albissola. It leads a group of Masterworks from a Private Collection, Aspen; select paintings from which fetched $4.3 million and were 100% sold at the Latin American Art auction in May. The November sale also honors the Mexican Revolution's bi-centennial with an exceptional group of 19th century Mexican works from the collection of Vera da Costa Autrey. Overall, the November Latin American Art sales are estimated to fetch over $20 million.

Masterworks from a Private Collection, Aspen
Les Abalochas Dansent Pour Dhambala, dieu de l'unité comes to the market just months after Sotheby’s set a new record for Lam at auction when Sur les traces (Transformation) sold for $1.4 million om May2010. This monumental painting depicting interwoven figures draws on themes encompassing the full breadth of Lam’s creative history from the early Paris paintings through the Femme Cheval series of the 1950s cumulating in the monumental masterpieces of the 1970s. Les Abalochas treads a fine line between figuration and abstraction, referencing a range of human emotions including pain, joy, movement and loss. Les Abalochas Dansent Pour Dhambala, dieu de l'unité interprets a religious scene depicting Dhambala, the Creole name in a Haiti for a rainbow serpent, intermingling with Ayida, another serpent in a sign of union and ecstasy with other figures creating a sense of constant movement.

L’Exampleur by Matta from 1949 and was once in the collection of Sir Roland Penrose, the British artist and collector of modern and surrealist art who is perhaps best known as Picasso’s biographer (est. $400/600,000). Matta and Penrose were both members of the international surrealist group and exhibited alongside each other in the seminal International Surrealist Exhibition organized by André Breton and Wolfgang Paalen in 1940. It is highly likely that L’Exampleur was acquired by Penrose when the artist visited his farmhouse in East Sussex shortly after it was painted.

Paisaje from 1966 is a masterwork from Gunther Gerzso - unquestionably the greatest Mexican abstract painter of the 20th century (est. $150/250,000). Gerzso painted the work just three years after his first retrospective at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. It was a period that saw him move away from the earth tones of his paintings from the previous decade in favor of deep reds, lively blues and vibrant greens as seen in Paisaje.

Further highlights from the Aspen Collection include Rufino Tamayo’s Esfera Flotante from the height of the artist’s mature period (est. $100/150,000) and Desnudo Contra Un Zócalo Azul by Armando Morales depicting female nudes in a nocturnal setting (est.$150/250,000).

Surrealist Works and Mid 20th Century Masters
Occult Scene (Jacob’s Ladder) comes from the pinnacle of Leonora Carrington’s interest in the occult (est. $500/700,000). The influences of both Carrington’s Catholic upbringing and her fascination with the Renaissance masters are apparent in the depiction of a supernatural event in which embracing couples dance on a watery dance floor while an insect like creature descends from heaven on a ladder in the background. The painting was also formerly in the collection of Roland Penrose.

Matta’s Children’s Fear of Idols II comes from a series of paintings in which Matta draws through black paint to show the colored base of the canvas (est. $500/700,000). Painted in 1944, almost five years after the artist moved to the US, the work explores deep space and belongs to the same series as Vertigo of Eros in the MOMA collection. The Avoiders is another Matta which comes with the interesting provenance of the collection of Albert Lewin, an American director, producer and screenwriter who worked at MGM (est. $150/250,000).

In Nuestra Señora de Cajicá from 1972, Fernando Botero continues one of his most important series which includes Our Lady of Colombia (in the collection of the Museo de Antioquía near Bogotá) (est. $600/800,000). The work shows the Virgin Mary cradling baby Jesus who is holding a Colombian flag thereby incorporating important themes in Botero’s work – religion and his home country.

Other surrealist highlights include Augustin Cárdenas's wood sculpture L'Histoire n’est pas Finie I from 1959 (est. $150/200,000) and Wifredo Lam's Untitled (Figura Vegetal) which has appeared in major Lam exhibitions in Caracas (est. $300/400,000).

The auction includes a particularly strong selection of works from Brazil. Among the highlights is a 19th century view of Rio de Janeiro by Nicolau Antonio Facchinetti – View of Rio de Janeiro From The Hotel De Sta Thereza (est. $120/150,000), No. 232 a wood wall sculpture from 1969 by Sergio Camargo (est. $400/600,000) and Progressão 42-A by Abraham Palatnik (est $150/250,000). A Very large Carved Brazilian Rosewood Sacristy Chest (Arcaz) from the late 18th century which was probably made for a church vestry or altar leads the furniture in the sale (est. $80/120,000).

As Mexico celebrates its bicentennial the sale will include a number of colonial and 19th century paintings from the collection of Vera da Costa Autrey. As a result of their historical importance many of these paintings have been recognized as part of the national heritage of Mexico and as such can not be permanently exported from the country.

Vera da Costa Autrey, a Brazilian although later moved to Mexico, was born into art, her parents having been major collectors. Among the 19th century highlights of the collection is El Requiebro by José Augustín Arrieta, part of a pair with the other work currently in a private collection (est. $180/220,000) and Cruzando El Lago de Texcoco Con Volcanes by the Italian artist Eugenio Landesio who was a major influence over 19th century Mexican painting (est. $180/220,000).

Indio Con Traje De Gala En Puesto De Comida by Édouard-Henri-Théophile Pingret illustrates a fascinating and obscure chapter in mid 19th century American and Mexican history ($90/120,000). After Sotheby’s catalogue was published, specialists were contacted by an American Indian historian who identified the figure in the painting as a Seminole Indian. This tribe was forcefully removed from their land by President Andrew Jackson and moved to the Oklahoma territory but instead fled south and established themselves in today’s Sothern Texas and Northern Mexico. The artist did not visit this area and it is possible that the Seminole chief could have travelled further south, maybe to meet with the Mexican authorities.

The collection also includes a number of 20th century paintings including Paysage d’Arcachon, a Diego Rivera landscape that was heavily influenced by Paul Cézanne (est. $400/600,000) and Rufino Tamayo’s Hombre de la Miranda Penetrante (est. $300/400,000).

In addition to the Collection of Vera da Costa Autrey the sale will include Miguel Cabrera's cycle of eight paintings of the life of the Virgin Mary from 1766. The paintings come from the end of Cabrera’s career and have been hidden in a U.S. Convent since the 1920's (est. $300/500,000). The Benedictine Sisters are selling the paintings and the funds raised will be used to build a new monastery for senior sisters. The series of eight paintings were brought back from Mexico towards the end of the 19th century by Henry J. Heinz – the founder of Heinz foods, who then gave them to a Pittsburg priest in the 1930s.

Pioneers of Abstraction
In addition to the mid century Brazilian works by Camargo and Palatnik, the sale also includes three works by one of the fathers of abstraction, Joaquín Torres-García including Río Negro (Arte Constructivo) (est. $350/450,000). Also of note is Coloritmo 9 by Alejandro Otero, which has been off the market for decades (est. $250/350,000). The artist’s work largely consists of a series of sequential numbered works; Coloritmo 9 is therefore the ninth piece of around 75 and as such is an extremely important early work by this Venezuelan artist.

The auction takes place in New York on Tuesday 16 November 2010, 7pm and Wednesday 17 November, 10am

Saturday 13 November, 10am – 5pm
Sunday 14 November, 1pm – 5pm
Monday 15 November, 10am – 5pm
Tuesday 16 November, 10am – 1pm

Sotheby's | Wifredo Lam | Latin American Art Sale |

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