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Sotheby's Latin American Art evening sale in New York totals $17 million, breaks records
Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo's painting "Watermelon Slices" is seen in this handout released November 18, 2011. "Watermelon Slices" sold for $2.2 million on the evening of November 16, 2011, topping Sotheby's Latin American art auction. Tamayo used a pure dry pigment for each tone to convey vibration, said Sotheby's Latin American art chief Carmen Melian. A monumental figure of 20th century Mexican art, Tamayo died in 1991. REUTERS/Sotheby's.
NEW YORK, N.Y.- Sale of Latin American Art at Sotheby’s in New York brought a total of $16,975,750, meeting pre-sale expectations (est. $15.2/20.7 million).* The highlight of the evening was Watermelon Slices by Rufino Tamayo, which exceeded the high estimate to fetch $2,210,500; the work was sold by The Museum of Modern Art, New York to benefit the Acquisitions Fund (est. $1.5/2 million). Watermelon Slices was just one of a number of excellent prices for the Mexican painter, with a particular resurgence in early works. Other Tamayo highlights included: Frutero y dominó from 1928 which was sought by four bidders before almost doubling the estimate to sell for $530,500 (est. $275/375,000), and La Tenista from 1932 which fetched $398,500 (est. $225/275,000).

“We are very pleased with the results of tonight’s strong and even session,” said Carmen Melian, Head of Sotheby’s Latin American Art department. “It was a great night for Rufino Tamayo – in addition to his painting Watermelon Slices from 1950, which exceeded its high estimate in bringing $2,210,500, we saw earlier works by the artist from the 1920s and 30s selling strongly as well. The continued demand for Kinetic art helped all of the works by Jesús Rafael Soto find buyers, and we were thrilled to see two works by Carlos Cruz-Diez surpass the artist’s previous record at auction. Bidders in tonight’s sale came from across the globe.”

The other major highlight of the auction was a group of six works by Venezuelan Abstract Art master Jesús Rafael Soto, all of which exceeded their high estimates. These were led by Escritura Cobalto, an elegant and lyrical composition in one of Soto´s preferred colors: cobalt (or Yves Klein) blue which soared over the high estimate to sell for $530,500 (est. $250/350,000). Other highlights included the early work Tes De Monza which doubled the estimate when it fetched $374,500 (est. $140/180,000).

The strong prices for Soto works were part of an excellent evening for Kinetic art. The 1931 work Physichromie 2000 by Carlos Cruz-Diez was sought by five bidders fetching $422,500 to set a record for the artist at auction (est. $200/300,000). Surprisingly, this record was broken just four lots later when Physichromie 88 sold for $518,500, selling for over twice the estimate (est. $200/300,000).

Other highlights included La India Del Lago by Mexican painter Alfredo Ramos Martínez from his California period. India is one of the most important paintings by the artist to have appeared at auction for many years and sold for $962,500 (est. $900,000/1.2 million). Bonjour Monsieur Lam (Au Commencement De La Nuit) by Cuban artist Wifredo Lam sold for $674,500 (est. $600/800,000).

Works by the Chilean Surrealist painter Roberto Matta were led by Lispard du Mêdi which realized $566,500 (est. $350/450,000). The work of another Chilean artist Claudio Bravo, who passed away in June, also soared when his lyrical oil-on-canvas of graceful fabrics Seraphim (White, Yellow, and Green) from 1999 sold for $992,500, over the high estimate (est. $700/900,000).

One of the surprises of the sale was the rapid rise in price of a monumental anonymous nineteenth century view of sugar cane cutters, most probably Cuban, which sold for $446,500 (est. $150/200,000). Other Cuban works which fared very well were Niña Con Paloma by Amelia Pelaez selling for $230,500 (est. $70/90,000) and Mario Carreno’s Mujer Carreño fetching $206,500 ($80/100,000).

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November 18, 2011

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