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Sotheby's announces highlights of their November offerings of Latin American Art
David Alfaro Siqueiros, El Pedregal, 1954. Estimate $250/350,000). Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- On the heels of their strong results in May 2018 for works by Latin American artists, Sotheby’s shared highlights of our November offerings of Latin American Art, which will be presented across the marquee fall auctions of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art from 12-15 November in New York. A superlative group of Modern masterworks by Mexican artists are on offer this season, led by paintings from Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, along with outstanding works by Fernando Botero and kinetic artists Jesús Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez.

Over 100 works on offer in the respective sales are now on public view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries through 15 November, as part of our exhibitions of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art.

Sotheby’s major offerings of Modern Latin American art are led by the finest landscape by Rufino Tamayo ever to appear at auction. Paisaje del Paricutín (Volcán en Erupción) (Landscape of el Paricutín) was painted in 1947, following a startling volcanic eruption in Michoacán, Mexico four years earlier that captured the attention and imagination of artists, scientists and intellectuals worldwide (estimate $1.3/1.8 million). The recollections of onlookers who witnessed the explosion influenced Tamayo’s vision of the natural event: mountains of ash accumulate around brilliant bursts of orange and red flames, while the sky clouds with smoke above. The artist’s depiction of the natural phenomenon also relates to a series of works that Tamayo produced during the war years, in which he began to integrate allusions to the cosmos and the atomic age.

An intimate portrait of a child, one of the artist’s most recurrent themes throughout his oeuvre, El sueño (La niña dormida) was painted at the height of Diego Rivera’s international fame in 1936, and poignantly expresses his enduring commitment to nationalist themes (estimate $800,000/1.2 million). Much like the Impressionists Auguste Renoir and Mary Cassatt, who depicted children with similar frequency and admiration, Rivera employs here an equal reverence of dignity, sweetness and tenderness while also showcasing a striking, chromatically rich tonality: the napping young girl, gently reposed with her arms gingerly cradling her head, is outfitted in a luminous pink dress, billowing with layers of fine cotton, which references the traditional Tehuana dress (often worn by his wife, Frida Kahlo)-----the elaborately embroidered garment worn by the indigenous women of Tehuantepec . Similar examples of portraits of children by Rivera can be found in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Another masterpiece of Mexican Modernism is David Alfaro Siqueiros’ El Pedregal from 1954, which will make its auction debut in the November Evening Sale (estimate $250/350,000). Having resided in the same family collection since it was acquired in 1957, the present work stands an exemplary embodiment of the artist’s experimental and advanced technical application of Pyroxylin --- also known as Ducco, a commercial automotive paint --- which would come to influence the drip technique employed by Jackson Pollock, who was a member of Siqueiros’ New York City Experimental Workshop.

It is unprecedented for a work of this technical caliber, scale and year of execution by the artist to become available on the international auction market. A testament to its exceptional quality, the work was included in the 1959 exhibition The U.S. Collects Pan American Art , organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and curated by Joseph Randall Shapiro. The show was the first exhibition in Chicago to focus on works by Latin American artists, drawn primarily from private collections in the United States.

One of the most significant works from this period by the artist ever to appear to auction, José Clemente Orozco’s La Conquista from circa 1942 reworks the image of the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, with an intense focus on the violence and devastation of the Spanish conquest of 1519-1525, specifically the brutal subjugation of indigenous populations and the annihilation of the indigenous world (estimate $600/800,000). The dramatic scene is heightened by expressive, jagged brushstrokes, contrasting color palette and sharp diagonals throughout the composition. From 1940-1945, Orozco turned increasingly to easel painting, revisiting themes and iconographic elements from prior mural cycles, including those at Pomona College (1930) and Dartmouth University (1932-34), with the present work being among only 2 canvases depicting Cortés ever to appear at auction.

Included in the artist’s first retrospective in the United States, at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1931, Diego Rivera’s Luna sobre el Mercado showcases the artist’s synthetic approach to modern art: stylized renderings of faces, reminiscent of pre-Columbian masks – undoubtedly a nod to the European avant-garde; and an acidic color palette that bears similarities to works by Sonia Delaunay (estimate $1.5/2 million). The work also presents a stunning visual depiction of Mexico’s Tehuantepec women and their primary roles in the economic lives of their families — cultural archetypes as emphasized by their colorful garments.

First published in the May 1933 issue of Vanity Fair, The Tree of Modern Art–Planted 60 Years Ago is Miguel Covarrubias’ most celebrated drawing (estimate $100/150,000). A didactic image, the work visualizes the historiography of the Modern Art movement over two centuries. Commissioned by Frank Crowninshield, Vanity Fair’s publisher and founding member of The Museum of Modern Art, Tree of Modern Art depicts exactly fifty leaves, each individually dedicated to a pioneering artist, and is built upon seven firmly grounded roots representing the foundational masters of modernity—Eugène Delacroix, Honoré Daumier, Jacques-Louis David, Nicolas Poussin, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Within the periphery of Modernism, emblems of the dual influences of African and Ancient Greek sculpture rest at the foot of the flourishing tree. At the root, Covarrubias places Alfred H. Barr, Jr., founding director of MoMA, in leisurely repose, dressed in formal attire and staring pensively at an ornate yet vacant frame.

In the more than 80 years since its creation, the work has been a consistent source of inspiration: in 2012, The Museum of Modern Art created MoMA Makes a Facebook for Abstractionists, a collaboration between MoMA curators and the Columbia Business School depicting early Modernism as a vast social network. Ad Reinhardt’s How to Look at Modern Art in America (1946), part of The Spencer Museum of Art collection, is yet another contemporary example of the drawing’s impact on the American arts scene. In their description of the work, the museum acknowledges Covarrubias as the main source for Reinhardt's updated genealogy of contemporary art.

A dynamic group of kinetic works will highlight the Day Auction of Contemporary Art, led by Carlos Cruz-Diez’s arresting Physichromie Panam from 2015 (estimate $500/700,000), one of three works by the artist on offer this November. The large-scale piece explores the perception of color as an autonomous reality evolving in space and time, unaided by form or support. The mesmerizing structure is designed to reveal the contingency and capricious nature of color, changing according to the movement of the viewer and the intensity of the light, thus projecting color into space to create an evolutionary situation of additive, reflective, and subtractive color.

Acquired by the present owner directly from the artist’s estate, Tes No. 1 from 1975 was created during a pivotal period for Jesús Rafael Soto, one that was marked by both global success and vast productivity (estimate $350/450,000). Following his acclaimed retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1974, Soto accepted a series of important commissions around the world, including for Régie Rénault and the Venezuelan state. Globally, 1975 was a year marked by conflict, turmoil, and advances; seen in context of its moment of creation, Tes No. 1 embodies the turbulence of its time, and the instability which Soto viewed as central to human existence.

In Tes No. 1, Soto makes visible the destructive and restorative power of energy. A single column of alternating black and white Ts emerge from the surface of the panel in waves that engulf those standing before it, subsuming the boundary between object and spectator. The viewer enters into a dynamic space in which static objects become dematerialized and seemingly stable masses are transfigured into pure light and energy.

An achievement of indisputable technical mastery executed during one of Olga de Amaral’s most significant periods of production, Cesta lunar 50A is representative of the foundational sources that inform her oeuvre : a synthesis of pre-Hispanic weaving traditions; the varied topography of South America’s landscape and modernist architectural principles (estimate $280/380,000). Created with a sculptural intention, the present work exists as an independent architectural structure. Installed separate from the wall, it takes on the life of a sacred, otherworldly construction ----- a monument of sorts that harkens the grid-composed works of Joaquín Torres-García, the pioneer of Universal Constructivism. More importantly, the underlying ethos of Amaral’s sculptural weavings reveals itself: a lifelong examination of textile at the intersection of Latin American Abstraction and the greater cannon of Post-War Contemporary Art.

Amaral’s works have been included in over 80 solo and group exhibitions worldwide and can be found in the permanent collections of prestigious institutions, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, the Museé Bellerive, Zurich, and the Denver Art Museum, among others.

Fernando Botero’s still life paintings are the fruit of his fascination with art history and the Old Master paintings he encountered as a student in Europe in the 1950s. His encounters with these masterworks informed reinterpretations in his works from the beginning stages of his oeuvre that are then revisited throughout his career. The present work, Still Life with Oranges from 1969, is a key example of Botero’s masterful ability to pay homage to the vocabulary of still life painting while reflecting the color palette, brushstroke, compositional arrangement, and volume identifiable with the signature ‘‘Botero’’ aesthetic: whimsical, joyful and humorous views of everyday Colombia that maintained visual fragments of art history (estimate $300/400,000).

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