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Works by Diego Rivera and Fernando Botero lead Christie's Latin American Sale
Fernando Botero, Nun Eating an Apple, signed and dated ‘Botero 81’ (lower right), oil on canvas, 40 x 36 in. (101.5 x 91.5 cm.). Painted in 1981. Estimate: $500,000-700,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s Latin American Sale will take place on November 20 at 7:00 p.m. and November 21, at 10:00 a.m. This two-session sale of 300 lots total is led by significant works from some of the region’s best-known artists spanning colonial art to the present. The Evening Sale features 80 of the sale’s most important works, with an exceptional line-up of paintings and sculpture from celebrated Brazilian and Mexican artists, amongst many others. The following Day Sale presents over 200 additional works of art from the Spanish colonial era to the present. The combined sales are expected to realize in excess of $20 million.

Madre con hijos by Diego Rivera, painted in 1926, (estimate: $500,000-800,000) reflects the artist’s interest in depicting Mexico’s indigenous people. Rivera spent the years of the Mexican Revolution abroad, returning only in 1921 to participate in a national program of mural painting. He found inspiration in the region’s indigenous culture as this painting’s subject matter reflects—a mother with her young children—poignant and enduring symbols of national identity and strong familial ties.

One of the most provocative and beautiful portraits ever painted by Diego Rivera is Portrait of Linda Christian, painted in 1947, (estimate: $250,000-350,000), and virtually unknown to the general public and scholars alike until now. Featured on the cover of her 1962 autobiography, Linda My Own Story, the painting demonstrates Rivera’s skills as a portraitist, expressing his brilliant use of light and color as well as his astute use of allegorical references. Rivera met actress Linda Christian in the 1940s and painted her at least twice in two portraits that survive to this day. In the present painting, the actress appears radiant and sensuous, while the playful hummingbirds explore the inner hollows of the orchids and tulips suggesting an erotically charged metaphor.

Also featured in the sale is Fernando Botero’s Nun Eating an Apple, a 1981 painting which exemplifies the artist’s humor and wit. In this painting, Botero presents a whimsical representation of Original Sin, (estimate: $500,000-700,000), through a portly nun that glances to the side as though just having been caught in a devious act. With a Bible in her left hand and the forbidden fruit in her right, she holds the forces of good and evil. Here evil seems to be winning out as the newly eaten apple remains slightly raised above the book.

Another highlight by Botero is Horse, a monumental bronze sculpture that exudes beauty and strength, executed in 1999 (estimate: $700,000-1,000,000). Christie’s will offer Horse on behalf of The Scheringa Museum of Realist Art. Following in the tradition of equestrian monuments, Botero’s majestic horse conjures references to the great ancient Etruscan equine sculptures and to the epic horses of the Italian Renaissance master Paulo Uccello whose work the Colombian master studied during his early years as a student in Italy.

Christie’s also will offer several important works by some of today’s most prominent Brazilian modern and contemporary artists. Leading the selection is the enigmatic 1947 double portrait of Lampião e Maria Bonita (estimate: $150,000-200,000) by Brazil’s foremost modern artists, Candido Portinari. Often referred to as the “Robin Hood of Brazil” Portinari depicts the infamous bandit and folk hero Lampião along with his beautiful and fearless companion bathing their images in the glow of richly mottled color and painterly geometries. A contemporary of Portinari’s, Iberê Camargo is known for his intensely expressionistic paintings. The 1967 Jogo de Carréteis I (estimate: $120,000-180,000) exemplifies his mature style and his persistent analysis and transfiguration of the spool, an image recalled from childhood memories that accounts for one of Camargo’s most iconic motifs as well as his highly introspective abstract compositions. Also from 1967, is Relief No. 190, (estimate: $250,000-350,000) by abstract sculptor Sergio Camargo, one of Brazil’s most established artists. Camargo is best known for his abstract biomorphic painted wood reliefs such as the present example constructed of diagonally cut, wooden cylinders set atop a flat wooden board. The relief although intimate in size, generates a subtle play of light and shadow around its suggestively animate wooden forms.

The legacy of Brazil’s concretist and neo-concretist tradition along with a younger generation of contemporary artists is equally well represented in the November sale and includes outstanding works by Cildo Meireles, Adriana Varejão, Vik Muniz, Ernesto Neto, Mira Schendel, Jose Resende, Leda Catunda, and Daniel Senise.

Armando Morales, one the most significant twentieth century artists to have emerged from the Central American nation of Nicaragua, is represented in the sale with several important works including the imposing Oráculo sobre Managua (Homenaje a Ernesto Cardenal) (estimate: $350,000-450,000). Executed in 1989, as an homage to Ernesto Cardenal’s epic poem of the same title, Morales’s painting depicts a dream-like state where reality and artifice collide. Nude figures, train tracks, beams of light, dogs, mirrors, horses, bicycles, vintage automobiles, inner tubes and other random objects fill a space that is simultaneously chaotic and calm, visible and enigmatic.

For over thirty years, the Cuban master Tomás Sánchez has investigated the possibilities of landscape painting while rendering a profound sense of wonderment and the majestic power of the natural world. The November Sale features major works by Sánchez including Llegada del caminante a la laguna (estimate: $500,000-700,000), a work whose sheer scale (over 7 ft. by 8 ft.) and depth functions much as a magnetic field drawing the viewer into its sensuous and luscious terrain. Equally enticing is the sublime and ultra-lush landscape Buscador de paisajes (estimate: $300,000-500,000). Both works contain many of the elements that represent Sánchez’s oeuvre such as a panoramic vista, linear perspective, a sense of expansiveness and depth, and the ever-present meditator. Visible in both works, the meditator, typically a man, that may be interpreted as the artist’s quiet presence, or perhaps a metaphor for all mankind and a feeling of oneness with the universe.

Christie's will offer for the first time at auction a work by the Colombian artist Oscar Muñoz. Executed in 2001-02, Narciso is comprised of twelve framed silver gelatin prints realized through sequential images encompassing a variety of techniques including drawing, photography, and video (estimate: $30,000-40,000). Based on the ancient myth of Narcissus who became enamored by his own image reflected in a pool of water, Muñoz explores this story further, creating a work whose simplicity belies its deep psychological import and ruminations on selfidentity, the passage of time, and the fugacity of life. The work exists first as a self-portrait of the artist rendered in a delicate charcoal dust drawing on the surface of a sink full of water. Once the drain is opened and the water drained, the artist’s face becomes distorted as the charcoal dust slowly evaporates and his features become distorted, a mere abstraction.

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November 1, 2012

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