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Phillips announces highlights from its spring Latin America sale on 23 May in New York
Amelia Pelaez, Las Hermanas, 1943. Estimate $250,000 - 350,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips presents an exceptional selection of highlights from its spring Latin America sale offering 99 lots with a pre-sale estimate of $3,228,000-4,547,000.

“This season's Latin America sale includes masterpieces from the most important periods of the last 70 years of Latin American Art, and it aims to set the standard for the future of our program. We have seminal works from the Brazilian Neo-Concrete movement, from Lygia Clark 's 1959 Contra Relevo to Lygia Pape’s large scale 1957 Desenho. Among the most important pieces in the sale is Amelia Peláez’s Las Hermanas, which Alfred Barr considered to be a highlight of The Museum of Modern Art’s 1944 exhibition of Modern Cuban Painters. In a more contemporary vein, we are delighted to feature Gabriel Orozco’s Naturaleza recuperada, one of the most iconic and exhibited works in his oeuvre. This work is part of the Alma Colectiva collection, which unites the most important group of contemporary Mexican and Brazilian artists of the last 20 years. This auction demonstrates the highly diverse yet historically significant and radical art that has been produced in Latin America, and we seek to incorporate these artists within the canon of their better known contemporaries in North America and Europe.” Henry Allsopp, Senior Director and Worldwide Head of Latin America.

LYGIA CLARK, Contra Relevo (Objeto N. 7), 1959, estimated at $600,000-800,000. Lygia Clark is considered one of the most important artists to have emerged from Brazil during the 20th-Century. Her practice is seen as the link between the Modernismo that defined Brazilian Modern art in the 1920s and 1940s and the post-war emergence of the abstract geometric and neo-constructivist trends.

Contra Relevo is considered one of Clark’s most significant works. It has been credited with influencing art critic Ferreira Gullar’s Theory of the Non-Object as well as subsequent generations of Neoconcrete artists. Contra Relevo holds the rare distinction of igniting the ideological dialogue that changed the course of contemporary art in the Americas.

LYGIA PAPE, Untitled (Desenho), 1957, estimated at $250,000 - 350,000. Lygia Pape is a master at imbuing vivacity into the most standard environments. Her artistic vision expanded contemporary art beyond representation and quietly rejected traditional figuration. Her works became forms in their own right, which lead to an embrace of Brazilian Neoconcretism in the late 1950’s.

Untitled (Desenho), evokes the simplicity of the square and the line. The thin uniform lines are overturned by the superimposed rectangles adding visual acrobatics and a unique layer of dynamism to an otherwise consistent geometric landscape.

AMELIA PELÁEZ, Las Hermanas, 1943, estimate at $250,000-350,000. Amelia Peláez is one of the most prominent artists of the Cuban avant-garde. After studying in New York and Paris, Peláez returned to Cuba develop her own brand of cubism, incorporating themes and imagery from the Hispanic Caribbean.

Las Hermanas, is a vibrant image portraying two sisters looking out from the balcony of their house, a snapshot of everyday life in Cuba. Although the sisters are not alike in facial features, they are presented with similar intensity. They are gracefully brought together through Cubist rendering that displays the artist’s virtuosity and flair for psychological drama. Las Hermanas was included in the Modern Cuban Painters exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1944, curated by Alfred Barr.

LUIS TOMASELLO, Atmosphère chromoplastique No. 248, 1970 estimated at $150,000-250,000. Argentinian artist, Luis Tomasello, is famous for his role in Kinetic Art, a movement which set the stage for the emergence of Optical Art in the mid-20th century. He was moved by his initial exposure to European art and the optical effects of the windows from the French gothic Chartres Cathedral. The study of these windows and their engagement with light became preeminent features in Tomasello’s work and laid the groundwork for a prolific career in geometric abstraction.

Atmosphére chromoplastique No. 248, consists of four hundred cubes laid uniformly upon a wooden surface, creating a grid with equally proportioned spaces between forms. The underside of each cubic unit is painted on two surfaces with fluorescent green or electric blue, creating a subtle glow throughout the work. The present lot epitomizes Tomasello’s œuvre in its expolartion of the interplay of color and light that occurs where the cubes meet the work’s surface.

GEGO, Seis de la serie de Nueve, 1969, estimated at $80,000-120,000. German born Gertrudis Goldschmidt, otherwise known as Gego, was an architect and engineer who immigrated to Venezuela in the late 1930’s in response to the Nazi regime in Germany. Gego developed her own style using the ideas of Constructivism, Geometric Abstraction and Kinetic Art. She developed her own visual language making three-dimensional objects using a variety of materials, most notably stainless steel wire.

Seis de la serie de Nueve was produced at the height Gego’s career. The piece is made of fine stainless-steel wires anchored to a transparent acrylic glass base through small perforations and then knotted underneath. The wires stand up freely from the base, grass-like in character. The acrylic glass accentuates the subtle delicacy and lightness of the piece.

IVAN SERPA, Untitled (Série Amazônica), 1969, estimated at $50,000 - 70,000. Ivan Serpa is among the most influential Brazlian artists whose award winning work calls attention to abstract geometric explorations. During the 1950s he taught courses at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, which established his influence and contribution to Brazil’s budding Concrete and Neoconcrete movements.

During the 1960s Serpa entered an phase of expressive and figurative exploration. The Amazônica series shows the artist reaching a synthesis of diverse modes of creative production. The constructivist influence is present, but is “softened” by curved lines that recall a Pop and Op aesthetic combined with “tropical” colors. The tropical or Brazilian themes are significant as they emphasize his proximity to the emerging idea of Tropicália: a Brazilian answer to international popular culture which had profound effect on the art, theatre, literature and music.

WILLYS DE CASTRO, Objeto Ativo, 1959-1960, estimated at $50,000-70,000. Willys de Castro worked as a painter, printmaker, theatre designer, graphic designer, concrete poet and composer. A signatory member of the 1959 Neoconcrete Manifesto, de Castro exhibited widely across Brazil. During this period, de Castro developed the idea of the active object, which challenged the two dimensional nature of the traditional canvas as the only support for a painting.

Objeto Ativo embodies the elements that inform de Castro’s notion of the active object. Presented as a relief, the artist demands that the viewer make a semi-circular movement around the object in order to unveil the relationships between color and form established by the work. This aspect of the piece becomes evident by the fact that it cannot be photographed from one single angle. Like most neoconrete objects it requires documentation from several points.

Phillips will offer a selection of works from the Alma Colectiva collection based in Guadalajara, Mexico. The collection, developed by Aurelio López Rocha, his wife Pepis Martínez, and their two children, is comprised of some of world’s most significant emerging and established artists and presents a forward-thinking vision of contemporary art. Motivated by the desire to engage and educate the public, López Rocha and his family have loaned works from Alma Colectiva to countless exhibitions and curatorial projects. Highlights from Alma Colectiva include:

GABRIEL OROZCO, Naturaleza recuperada, 1990, estimated at $250,000-350,000. Mexican artist, Gabriel Orozco, is a master of observation and creative intervention. He encourages his audience to form imaginative associations between everyday images and experiences while challenging traditional concepts of beauty and nature.

Naturaleza recuperada is born from the junkyards of Mexico City, where Orozco found two inner tubes and patched them together to create an inflatable ball. The present lot is one of Orozco’s most important works as it brings forth the idea that synthetic, human-made products can be as organic and beautiful as natural elements.

Auto construcción, caja de velocidades, 2005, estimated at $60,000-80,000 by Damián Ortega and Names, 1989, estimated at $25,000-35,000 by Jac Leirner are also being offered from the collection.

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