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Modern masterpieces from Brazil and Mexico lead the Autumn Latin American sale at Christie's New York
Diego Rivera’s Retrato de Julieta. Estimate: $300,000 - 500,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2011.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Christie’s New York announces details of its major fall Latin American Sale on November 15, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. and November 16, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. This two-session sale of more than 370 lots total is led by significant works from the best-known painters and sculptors of 20th century Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Evening Sale features 79 of the sale’s most important works, with an exceptional line-up of paintings and sculpture from celebrated Brazilian and Mexican artists, amongst many others. The following Day Sale presents 290 additional works of art, including photography, drawings, prints and sculpture from the Spanish colonial era to the present. The combined sales are expected to realize in excess of $18 million.

Virgilio Garza, Head of International Latin American Paintings at Christie’s, commented: "The very rich representation of genres, periods and countries represented in this fall’s Latin American Sale offers exceptional opportunities to collectors in this dynamic field, at every price level. Leading the sale is a particularly strong group of works from Brazil and Mexico, a selection of Emiliano di Cavalcanti (1897-1976) O Homem a e Máquina, 1966 estimate: $200,000 – 300,000 works by Fernando Botero in a variety of mediums, a monumental painting from the 1970s by Francisco Toledo, and a number of extraordinary works from the distinguished Olivetti Latin American Collection."

Brazilian Highlights
The sale’s strong selection of Brazilian artists is highlighted by fresh to the market works from the Olivetti Latin American Collection. Leading the collection is a stylized abstraction, Bandeirinhas estruturadas, painted in 1966 by Alfredo Volpi (1896-1988). The painting is typical of the artist’s work in which he transforms everyday motifs-- facades, flags, arches, sails-- into schematic and essential geometries (estimate: $250,000 - 350,000). His practice both anticipated and coexisted with the Neo-Concrete movement of the 1960s, and his iconic abstractions rank among the landmarks of modern Brazilian art.

Another highlight of the Olivetti group, and gracing the catalogue cover, is O Homem a e Máquina, painted in 1966 by Emiliano di Cavalcanti (1897-1976) (estimate: $200,000 – 300,000). A key figure in the history of early Brazilian modernism, and one of the architects of the landmark Semana de Arte Moderna de São Paulo in 1922, Di Cavalcanti developed a mature style that mingled the formal precepts of cubism, fauvism, surrealism and German expressionism with a subject matter rooted in Brazil’s rich cultural and racial heritage. In O Homem a e Máquina, he creates a fantastical scene combining his familiar iconography of young, stylized female figures with elements that exalt Brazil’s past and its energetic present. The typewriter depicted in the composition, a clear reference to the Olivetti company, stands as a powerful symbol of industry and modernity.

The group of Brazilian artists is rounded out with a sculpture by Franz Weissmann (1911-2005) Estructura, 1969, also from the Olivetti collection (estimate: $60,000- 80,000), and Mira Schendel (1919-1988) Untitled (estimate $50,000 - 70,000); Antonio Bandeira (1922-1967) Blue Streets, 1955 (70,000 – 90,000), and José Pancetti (1902-1958) Abaeté (Serie Bahia, No. 28), 1957 (estimate: $60,000 – 80,000).

Mexican Highlights
Significant works by Mexican artists are led by Alfredo Ramos Martínez (1871-1946) and the painting The Oldest Couple in Town, circa 1930s, which evinces the artist's stylistic adherence to Art Deco and Cubist-based practices (estimate: $500,000 - 700,000). Martínez’s thematic approach is decidedly locally inspired and grounded in a steadfast commitment to depicting the humble campesino at work, at prayer, and at other moments that exalt traditional familial and cultural values.

Deeply imbued with the psychic mysticism of the pre-Hispanic Oaxacan world, Francisco Toledo has described the swirling, rich tonalities of reds and oranges in the exuberant Vaca Roja as evoking a primal space teeming with creation (estimate: $500,000 – 700,000). The textured surface recalls the paintings in the Paleolithic caves of Lascaux, with the commingled figures of cow and crab suggesting an animistic kinship grounded in the very materiality of the canvas.

Painted in 1967, Hombre Con un Gran Sombrero by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), is an example of his mature abstract style, in which highly simplified objects seem to dissolve into layers of translucent color (estimate: $400,000 – 600,000. The painting centers on a solitary human figure underneath an oversize, wide-brimmed, high-pointed hat: in post-revolutionary Mexican art, the symbol of the peasant and agrarian classes. Tamayo’s treatment of this classic iconography draws the Mexican symbol into an international visual syntax, and reaffirms his belief that a non-didactic, universal art can nevertheless draw creative inspiration from popular sources.

The Mexican painter Diego Rivera remains one of the most highly recognizable Latin American artists of the twentieth century-- his name synonymous with Mexico's artistic and cultural renaissance. Rivera’s Retrato de Julieta, a tender rendering of an indigenous girl, is an example of his pervasive images of young Mexican children (estimate: $300,000 - 500,000).

A pioneer of abstraction in post-war Mexico, Gunther Gerzso (1915-2000) gained a firsthand knowledge of modern European art during an adolescence spent abroad, then had a pivotal encounter with the pre-Columbian landscape in 1946 during travels through southeastern Mexico. The richly colored, complexly overlapping geometries of Verde-Azul-Blanco, 1978 (estimate: $150,000 – 200,000) exemplify his influential synthesis—a new American art par excellence—which he himself summed up with the words, "I am an artist who expresses the irrational with very rational methods."

Another highlight by Gerzso is Ciudadela, 1955, which evocatively re-imagines the archaic forms and architecture of the Mesoamerican landscape (estimate: $200,000 - 300,000). After 1946, Gerzso began to name his paintings after important pre-Hispanic sites, and Ciudadela likely recalls the fortress of the same name at the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán, whose four-sided sunken plaza and pyramid are here re-imagined in the close-packed geometries nestled within two imposing vertical planes.

Other Highlights
The powerful duo in Dancers by Fernando Botero (b. 1932) take their place among the bronze works that Botero began to create in the 1970s, rendering both human and animal figures into monumental beings (estimate: $1,500,000 – 2,000,000). Like a supersize Adam and Eve, the majestic figures stand face-to-face at a moment that might immediately precede a dance, or perhaps an embrace or kiss. Reminiscent of certain sculptures from Western Mexico, as well as Brancusi’s The Kiss (1916), Botero’s Dancers gaze at one another directly, while maintaining the tension of a moment in which the space between them is as important as their intimacy.

Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca’s (b. 1961) now-celebrated themes of emotional dislocation and spatial disintegration took root during the 1980s, influenced by the artist’s encounter in Germany with Pina Bausch’s experimental Tanztheater. Taking a cue from Bausch, Tres Noches stages an enigmatic human drama against a cavernous and disorienting interior space, laden with a sense of disquiet (estimate: $120,000 – 180,000). Two figures lie prostrate on the floor, while a band stands before a bed between them, chairs scattered throughout the vast and strangely luminous space.

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