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Diego Rivera, Wilfredo Lam, and Armando Reverón lead Latin American Art sale at Sotheby's
Carlos Cruz-Diez, Chromo-Interference Mécanique. Metal, paint, springs, and electric motors. Executed in 1979. Est. $350/450,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s spring sale of Latin American Art in New York on 23 and 24 May 2012 will showcase a range of Latin American painting and sculpture from the continents’ most important artists including exceptional works from important collections that are fresh to the market with a particularly large selection of monumentally scaled works. The sale is led by the Diego Rivera masterpiece Niña En Azul y Blanco as well as major paintings by Wifredo Lam and Armando Reverón. Other highlights of the sale include paintings, drawings and sculpture by Fernando Botero and a wide selection of Latin American Geometric Abstraction.

Niña En Azul y Blanco (Retrato de Juanita Rosas a los diez años de edad) is the most important painting by Diego Rivera to have appeared at auction for decades (est. $4/6 million). The work is one of the largest Rivera paintings outside of Mexico and appears on the market at a time of renewed interest in the artist with a critically acclaimed solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York last year. Like many Rivera paintings from the period Niña En Azul y Blanco (Retrato de Juanita Rosas a los diez años de edad) portrays the innocence of a Mexican child, 10 year old Juanita Rosas. As the model for several paintings throughout the 1930s Juanita Rosas' entire childhood was documented by the artist. As a demonstration of his regard for the work Rivera chose it to illustrate his catalogue of Exposición de Homenaje Nacional that the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) organized in 1949 to celebrate 50 years his painting.

Ídolo (Oya/Divinité de l´Air et de la mort) by Wifredo Lam is entirely fresh to the market having been in the same private collection since 1947 (est. $2/3 million). The work was executed in 1944, a classic period for the artist when he also produced his quintessential masterpiece The Jungle that is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ídolo shows Lam at the height of his genius with a visual vocabulary that fuses the influences of mid-century European Modern and Surrealist artists with Afro-Cuban rites and mythology from his native country.

Desnudo detrás de la mantilla, a portrait of a nude model holding a shawl by Armando Reverón is the most important work by the artist ever to appear at auction (est. $700,000/900,000). Reverón is one of Venezuela’s most well-known and celebrated artists who was honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2007. He was born into a well-heeled Caracas family in 1889 and would go and study in Spain where he was captivated by artists such as Francisco Goya. Upon returning to South America, he moved to the Caribbean coastal town of Macuto where he built a secluded complex that became known as El Castillete (The Little Castle). Reverón lived here for the rest of his life working outside in utter seclusion surrounded by uncanny life-sized dolls that he used as models for his portraits.

Abstraction from Latin America
In response to the growing demand for abstract sculpture by Latin American artists, the auction includes major works by artists such as Sergio Camargo, Mathías Goeritz, Gego, Carmen Herrera, Mira Schendel, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesús Rafael Soto. The younger generation is represented by the Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes and Arturo Herrera.

Although he was a seminal part of Brazil's mid-century abstract movement, Sergio Camargo's most influential teacher was the Argentine painter and sculptor Lucio Fontana. The 1967 piece Hommage à Fontana is a supreme example of the wood-cone Reliefs that had come to dominate Camargo's work by the mid-1960s (est. $600/800,000).

The exceptionally large, 60 x 100 in, Mensaje by Mathías Goeritz is one of the instantly recognizable gold perforated metal works that have become so associated with the German-Mexican artist (est. $400/600,000).

The sale also includes a retrospective selection of works by Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto. The exceptionally early Sin Título (Vibración Amarilla Y Blanca) from 1960, mounts found objects on bright yellow next to a textured white composition (est. $400/600,000). The monumentally sized Mural produced between 1967-1973 is the largest work by Soto ever to appear at auction (est. $400/600,000). The sculpture was given by the artist to Director of the Museo De Belles Artes, Caracas Miguel Arroyo shortly after it was made and has been in the same collection since. Other highlights include Blanco from 1968 (est. $200/250,000) and Rhytmes Interferés from 1964 (est. $400/500,000).

Fernando Botero
The auction presents a superb selection of works by Fernando Botero covering all periods of his career and many of his signature themes. The Colombian artist who recently turned 80 is currently the subject of a major retrospective at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Botero transformed sculpture with his monumental works, a superb example of which is the 11 foot tall Standing Woman from 2003 which has been exhibited in important exhibitions in Berlin and Zurich (est. $800,000/1.2 million). Other sculpture highlights include Lovers from 1985 (est. $600/800,000)

Botero’s Circus series was inspired by a show he saw in the small Mexican town of Zihuatanejo while on holiday in 2006. The series depicts strongmen, twirling ballerinas, acrobats, lion tamers, clowns, jugglers, dancing elephants, dogs and horses as well women such as Circus Woman which features in the sale (est. $350/450,000). Another notable painting in the sale is Desnudo Acostado (est. $500/600,000).

Two Botero drawings from The Estate of Theodore J. Forstmann demonstrate the diversity of Botero’s artistic accomplishments: Dancers from 1995 (est. $200/300,000) and Abogado also from 1995 (est. $200/300,000) both contain recognizable aspects of his signature style.

Francisco Toledo
Francisco Toledo is perhaps the most important Mexican living artist. His paintings in the sale include Autorretrato a widely exhibited portrait from 1990 (est. $90/120,000), Hombres y Conejos (est. $100/150,000) and Personajes, a group of three works-on-paper including a self-portrait that have been in the same collection since 1965 (est. $15/20,000).

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May 12, 2012

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