NEW YORK.- Sotheby's evening sale of Latin American Art achieved a total of $21,033,500 (est. $13,945,000/17,945,000*), the highest total ever for an evening sale of Latin American Art at Sothebys. 91.2 percent of lots met or exceeded their high estimates, eleven lots sold for over $500,000 and two sold for over $1 million. Tonights sale was 90 percent sold by value and 88.3 percent sold by lot.
Carmen Melián, Head of the Latin American Art department, said, We saw a buoyant market tonight and are delighted. This sale offered a focused and strong group of works by Rufino Tamayo, which sold extremely well. A large selection of abstract art from Latin America including works by Torres-García and the Kinetic artists also performed extraordinarily well.
Tonights sale included the most important selection of paintings by Rufino Tamayo to appear on the market in several years; this offering of five works was 100% sold and achieved $6.3 million (est. $3.6/4.15 million). Tamayos El comedor de sandías (The Watermelon Eater), dated 1949, fetched $3,625,000 (lot 13, est. $2/2.2 million), selling to applause after several minutes of bidding to a buyer on the phone. This is the second highest price ever achieved for a work by Tamayo at auction. Also from the 1940s is El Constructor (The Builder), which brought 965,000 (lot 10, est. $700/900,000). Rarely seen works from the 1920s by Tamayo include Relojes (Clocks), 1929, which sold for $685,000 (lot 22, est. $325/375,000), and Naturaleza muerta (Still Life), 1924, which brought $505,000 (lot 4, est. $275/325,000), both excellent examples of Tamayos early interest in metaphysical surrealism. A later work by Tamayo is Matrimonial Portrait, 1959, which fetched $553,000 (lot 59, est. $300/350,000) and was sold to benefit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California.
Works by Joaquín Torres-García were highlighted by the artists magnificent Constructif Mysterieux (Mysterious Construction), which achieved a record-setting price of $1,721,000 (lot 21, est. $1.1/1.4 million). Two very rare early works, Ritmo de ciudad (Rhythm of the City), lot 16, 1918, which sold for $373,000, and Paisaje Urbano, Barcelona (Cityscape, Barcelona), lot 15, 1918, selling for $301,000 (est. $250/350,000 each), are excellent examples of Torres-Garcías vibrationist period and of his interest in capturing the energy of the urban environment.
Personnage from 1963 by the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam sold for $713,000 (lot 28, est. $600/800,000). Other works which were highly sought after in tonights sale include Mattas Ardeur de LEau, which garnered bids from at least five clients in the room and two on the phone, finally selling to applause for $601,000 (lot 29, est. $150/200,000), more than three times the high estimate. Also by Matta, Untitled No. 9, a crayon and graphite work on paper from 1942, brought $301,000 (lot 26, est. 150,000/200,000), setting a record for a work on paper by the artist.
The Mexican artist Alfredo Ramos Martínezs La niña de las flores blancas (The Girl with White Flowers) brought $517,000 (lot 7, est. $250/350,000). A landscape by José María Velasco, El Valle de México Desde el Cerro de Santa Isabel (The Valley of Mexico from the Hillside Santa Isabel) from 1882 sold for $553,000 (est. $180/220,000). A Colonial piece, Alegoría del Patronato de la Virgen de Guadalupe Sobre la Nueva España, achieved a price of $481,000 (lot 60, est. $60/80,000) after very heated bidding.
An artist record was set for the Argentine Emilio Pettorutis with a rare cubist painting, La Señorita del Sombrero Verde (Woman Wearing a Green Hat), from 1919, which sold for $629,000 (lot 8, est. $300/400,000). Another abstract work by Pettoruti is a 1914 futurist drawing Espanzione Dinàmica (Dynamic Expansion), which brought 265,000 (lot 35, est. $60/80,000), setting a record for a work on paper by the artist.
A work by Benito Quinquela Martín, El Puerto de Buenos Aires, achieved $421,000 (lot 66, est. $90/120,000), setting a record for the artist at auction. Armando Reveróns India con Collar Verde, which sold for $337,000 (lot 20, est. $200/300,000), enjoyed interest from at least four distinct bidders. An iconic sculpture, Man on a Horse, 1989, by Columbian artist Fernando Botero brought $445,000 (lot 9, est. $350/450,000); and Reclining Nude, also by Botero, brought $265,000 (lot 71, est. $200/250,000). A sculpture by Francisco Zúñiga, Madre con Niño en la Cadera, brought $223,000 (lot 65, est. $250/350,000).
Works by several key members of the Kinetic art movement tonight included Jesús Rafael Sotos Fiesta, 1969, selling for $265,000 (lot 44, est. $150/200,000); Carlos Cruz-Diezs Physiochromie no. 437, 1968, bringing $169,000, a record for the artist at auction (lot 43, est. $70/90,000); and Alejandro Oteros Coloritmo 69, 1960, fetching $409,000, twice its high estimate and a record for the artist at auction (lot 42, est. $150/200,000). From Brazil, Sergio Camargos White Reliefs no. 357, lot 48, 1972, oil on wood construction, brought $169,000 (est. $40/60,000).
Additional artist records were set tonight for Francisco Mattos Sin Título, which sold for $43,000 (lot 18, est. $35/45,000); Julio le Parcs Ordination dune Surface, Vitesse Progressives de Rotation, which brought $313,000 (lot 45, est. $40/60,000); and Martha Botos Intercessions Lumineuses, which achieved $37,000 (lot 50, est. $20/25,000). Records by medium were set for a sculpture by Rodolfo Morales with his Untitled work which brought $157,000 (lot 11, est. $80/100,000); and for a work on paper by Leonora Carrington for Escenografía Para El Rey Se Muere Dirigido Por Jodorowsky which sold for $96,000 (lot 27, est. $80/100,000).