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Sotheby's to offer Rufino Tamayo's 1942 masterpiece 'Perro aullando a la Luna'
Rufino Tamayo, Perro aullando a la Luna (Dog Howling At The Moon). Signed Tamayo and dated 42 (lower left). Oil on canvas, 44 1/4 by 33 3/4 in. 112.4 by 85.7 cm. Painted in 1942. Estimate $5/7 million Tamayo Heirs/Mexico/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced that Rufino Tamayo’s powerful Perro aullando a la Luna from 1942 will be offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 14 May 2018. A masterpiece of Mexican modernism that captures the existential angst following the onset of World War II, the poetic painting is the last major work from Tamayo’s renowned Animal series remaining in private hands. Emerging from a distinguished collection after more than two decades, the work was first exhibited at Valentine Gallery in New York, and was once owned by Peter G. Wray — one of the foremost collectors of pre-Columbian and modern Mexican art in the US in the 1970s and 1980s.

Perro aullando a la Luna is estimated to achieve $5/7 million when it is auctioned this May at Sotheby’s New York. The work will travel to Hong Kong from 24-26 April – the first Latin American painting to travel to Hong Kong as part of Sotheby’s exhibition of highlights from the marquee May and November auctions – before returning to New York for public exhibition in the York Avenue galleries beginning 4 May.

Anna Di Stasi, Director of Sotheby’s Latin American Art in New York, remarked: “We are honored to offer this extraordinary work by Rufino Tamayo in our May Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art, continuing our pioneering approach to presenting works by Latin American artists to collectors worldwide. Many of these artists worked with and have been exhibited alongside their European and American peers in renowned museums, galleries and other institutions; it is fitting that these immensely-creative minds are reunited in our global Fine Arts sales.”

Simon Shaw, Co-Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department commented: “We are pleased to formally welcome our Latin American Art colleagues to the Impressionist & Modern Art department in New York. As we saw with the strong result for Wifredo Lam’s Sans titre during our November 2017 Evening Sale, collectors are ready to look in every corner of the marketplace for the best of the best. We look forward to continuing to expand our client base through this important and immersive initiative in both our Evening and Day sales.”

Following the successful integration of Sotheby’s Contemporary Latin American Art into its New York Contemporary Art sales this past November, Perro aullando a la Luna introduces Sotheby’s new Latin American Art sales strategy: a formal integration of Modern Latin American Art offerings into its sales of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York. This expansion will continue to grow the collector base for, and concentrate the broad appeal of, this dynamic area of collecting.

World War II played a critical role in informing Tamayo’s work of the early 1940s. While primarily-based in New York during this time, he created a series of unsettling pictures in which animals, and dogs in particular, serve as explicit symbols of unrest.

This particular group of paintings was directly inspired by Picasso’s monumental Guernica from 1937. Tamayo studied the mural-sized canvas in exhibitions in New York, ultimately drawing a number of parallels between the figures represented in the famed painting and the present work – Guernica prominently features both a threatening bull and a screaming horse. Tamayo’s paintings, however, were distinguished by their vibrant color palette instead of the muted hues that can be found in Guernica.

Tamayo’s sentiments of desperation, isolation and anguish are expressed through a host of motifs exhibited by the canine subject. The animal raises his head towards the moon, the veins of his throat strained as he howls towards the dark and desolate sky; his piercing white teeth are visible in his open mouth. Perhaps most notably, dry meatless bones appear in the foreground of the work – an attribute that’s shared among other works in this series, most importantly, Animals (1941), now in The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

A quintessential painting inspired by pre-Columbian terracotta burial sculptures, the work embodies humanity’s angst during the early years of America’s participation in WWII. Executed in New York, where the artist first achieved international recognition as a leading exponent of modern art, Perro aullando a la Luna is one of the finest examples by Tamayo in private hands.

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