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Sotheby's Sale of Latin American Art in New York to be Held on May 27 - 28
Leonora Carrington, Chiki, ton pays. Oil, tempera and silk on canvas. Est. $1.2/1.6 million. Photo: Sotheby´s.

NEW YORK, NY.- The spring sales of Latin American Art at Sotheby’s on the evening of May 27th and day of May 28th encompass works from the Colonial period to Modern and Contemporary paintings, sculptures and multi-media installations. The sales include over 200 lots, and are expected to bring in excess of $10 million.

Chiki, ton pays (est. $1.2/1.6 million), is a rare large painting from the 1940s by English-born Leonora Carrington, one of the last remaining artists of the original Surrealist group in Paris. By the time she painted this work at age 27, she had already lived a harrowing life, including an elopement with Max Ernst (who was more than twice her age and already married), confinement in a Spanish asylum and a voyage to America to escape the Nazis. After a stint in New York where she re-involved herself with the exiled Surrealists, she followed her first husband, Renato Leduc, to Mexico, where the relationship soon ended. In Mexico she met Chiki Weisz, a Hungarian photographer and partner of fellow photojournalist Robert Capa. At the time, Mexico City was a hotbed of artistic activity for artists, writers and intellectuals who had fled the war. In a famous photograph by Katie Horna, the happy couple is surrounded on their wedding day by their friends—poet Benjamin Peret, painter Remedios Varo, sculptor José Horna, painter Gunther Gerzso and writer Miriam Wolf. Carrington painted Chiki, ton pays in October 1944, a year after her marriage to Weisz. As the title (Chiki, your country) implies, Leonora and her new husband float forward in the sky encapsulated in a fecund red pod topped by a crown of trees and streams, while in the Surrealist landscape below fantastic figures cavort and the underworld peeps through on the right-hand side in the spectacular composition. Carrington’s move to Mexico produced an explosion of creativity in her work, and cemented her place in the Surrealist pantheon.

Wifredo Lam, a Cuban member of the Surrealist movement, is represented by the monumental 1942 composition Nue à la Chaise (est. $500/600,000) and Femme Cheval (est. $450/550,000), an oil from 1959. The sinuous tropical forms of Nue à la Chaise are echoed in a rare ebony totem, Colonne de Feu, 1962 (est. $125/175,000) by another Cuban member of the later Surrealist group, sculptor Agustín Cárdenas.

Other highlights include three works by the distinguished Colombian artist Fernando Botero, led by Man and Horse (est. $600/800,000). Nowhere is the city of Medellín’s bygone era of colorful, narrow streets and quaint village houses more evident than in this work by the city’s most famous son. Executed in 1984 in Botero’s signature style—flat surfaces rendered in barely perceptible brushwork which belie the voluptuousness of the characters and scenes he creates—this work depicts a man preparing to embark on a journey, with resolve apparent in his confident gestures and penetrating gaze. As he prepares to mount his horse and ride away, a string of Colombian flags flank him from behind—perhaps not unlike Botero himself, who set forth from Medellín to capture the world. Also on offer is Botero’s Mother Superior (est. $300/400,000).

The sale includes a pair of delightful images of children by two of Mexico’s most important artists. Diego Rivera returned to Mexico in 1922 after his almost twenty-year sojourn in Europe, to become an integral part of what is sometimes called the Mexican Renaissance. Niña con Rebozo (est. $350/450,000) depicts Juanita Rosas, who appears in several works from this period. Rivera returned time and time again to painting images of children, as he felt that they expressed Mexico’s future. Rufino Tamayo, one of the most important artists of his generation, painted the imposing Girl with Yellow Flowers (est. $500/700,000) in 1946, at the height of his powers.

Sin Título by Venezualan master Armando Reverón, is a recently rediscovered work by this pioneer of early 20th century Latin American art, who was honored with a retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2007. In this work (est. $150/200,000), the artist places his models—an old man, a young woman and a young boy—in a scene he will repeat in other works with some variations. Some experts think that the figure of the old man in this composition could be an alter ego of Reverón, and the younger figure that of the artist as a young boy surrounded by the dolls he created to use as his sitters. The sale also includes Paisaje de Tanaguarena (est. $150/200,000) one of Reverón’s most abstract compositions, representing the luminous landscape of the beaches at Macuto, where he lived.

JoaquínTorres-García, was one of the pioneers of Latin American modernism. Construcción Portuaria (est. $450/650,000) was executed in 1942 in Montevideo, shortly after his return from Paris, and illustrates his Universal Constructivist language with a monochrome palette. Following in the wake of Torres-García’s pioneering use of abstraction, a compelling selection of 50s and 60s Modernist Latin American Art will be featured in the sale, led by a dynamic work by Carlos Cruz-Diez, one of the leaders of the Kinetic Art movement, Physichromie N° 496 (est. $100/150,000). Other artists of his generation are also represented by works in the sale, including Modulation by Jesús Rafael Soto (est. $150/200,000) and two works by Gego (Gertrudis Goldschmidt): Doble Catedral, 1959 (est. $40/60,000), an extraordinary work in which Gego utilized strips of metal that were transformed into curvilinear, ribbon-like forms, and the later Dibujo Sin Papel (est. $50/70,000). Her seemingly weightless constructions twist, turn and ultimately form intimate enclosures that project volumes into space.

Modernist works feature the Brazilian artist Mira Schendel, with Pair of Drawings (est. $12/18,000) and two works by Argentinian León Ferrari, Buscando (est. $25/35,000) and Untitled (est. $30/40,000). The works of these two artists are currently being featured in Tangled Alphabets, a show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where they are described as “among the most significant artists working in Latin America during the second half of the twentieth century.” Their works, although produced in neighboring countries, share a common interest in language and voices as visual subject matter, while maintaining styles totally different from the growth of Conceptualism occurring simultaneously around them.

The sale will feature some of Brazil’s leading contemporary artists. Highlights include a major work by the Conceptual artist Cildo Meireles, Jogo De Velha – Série C 3B (est. $60/80,000) composed of interlocking rulers whose illogical number sequence questions the logic of measuring space, an important aspect of the artist’s work. Meireles, one of the most important and influential artists of his generation, was the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Modern in London earlier this year.

Ernesto Neto, another leading contemporary artist, is represented by Body Garden Lipzoids (est. $25/35,000), an installation of 24 biomorphic sculptures made of stretchable fabric and filled with aromatic spices. This installation epitomizes the artist’s oeuvre, encouraging the viewer to actively interact with and physically experience the work through sight, smell and touch.

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