NEW YORK.- Rufino Tamayo’s "Sandías" sold for $988,000 dollars at Sotheby’s Latin American Art Sale. This is work that reached the highest prize at the beginning of this Latin American art season sales. The Tamayo work was painted in 1953. Kirsten Hammer, director of Sotheby’s Latin American Department said, "We arevery happy with the results. There were nice surprises." The total sales for the first night were $6.24 million dollars. She said that one of the surprises of the night was the sale of Cuban artist Mario Carreño’s work "El Guitarrista" for $366,400 dollars. Of the 50 lots offered, only 36 sold. The sculpture "Coloquio" by Francisco Zúñiga from Costa Rica sold for $265,600 dollars while "Woman" by Mexican artist Angel Zarraga sold for $232,000 dollars. Colombian artist Fernando Botero sold his painting "Before the Ride" for $680,000 dollars. Rufino Tamayo’s elegant Sandías of 1953 epitomizes the Mexican master’s life-long exploration of still-life painting, and stands as an especially fine example of the artist’s most celebrated subject: watermelons. Tamayo would return to develop and refine this theme again and again throughout his long career. In November 2002, Sotheby’s sold the first example of Tamayo’s exploration of the watermelon theme, the important Naturaleza Muerta (23 x 19 in.) from the renowned collection of Stanley Marcus, for $361,500. In the present work (39 ¼ x 32 in.), a product of Tamayo’s classic mature period which was commissioned by the original owner, the still life opens like a flower on the slim base of the pedestal table. Tamayo energizes the elegant composition by offering multiple perspectives on the deceptively simple still life. This understated evocation of Cubism, which is estimated to sell for $800,000/1 million creates a remarkably complex and sophisticated composition that lives in a room of its own.
The May sale also included Property from a Private East Coast Collection, which is highlighted by Fernando Botero’s Antes del Paseo, the most important work in the artist’s renowned corrida or bullfight series. Following in the footsteps of Goya and Picasso, who both created celebrated series on the Tauromaquia, in 1984 Botero began work on an important cycle dedicated to the bullfight or corrida de toros. For Botero, it was a theme rooted in his personal as well as artistic past: depictions of matadors and bulls are among the young Botero’s earliest drawings and at the age of twelve an uncle enrolled him in a school of tauromachy. The teacher, an aging banderillo named Aranguita, was to reappear, transformed, as the prototype for so many of Botero’s painted bullfighters. Antes del Paseo (Before the Opening Parade), the grandest of Botero’s corrida cycle, captures the moments before the triumphal entrance of the opening parade into the bullring. Assembled are the central figure of the noble matador de toros, his peon to the right, the beautiful queen of the feria-the maja in her traje flamenco-the banderillero practicing in the background, and the picador whispering to his horse on the left. Painted in 1984, this work is estimated to sell for $600/800,000. Also by Botero and consigned by the same owner, is a bright and charming Still Life from 1983 which is estimated at $200/250,000.
A jewel-like work by Matta from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome H. Hirschmann is an additional highlight of the evening sale. The Hirschmanns built an inspiring collection of 20th century art over the past 40 years. Dr. Hirschmann, a prominent Chicago doctor, and his wife, the daughter of great Chicago philanthropists, traveled the world acquiring important works. The couple began collecting Surrealist works in the late 1950s and early 60s among which was Matta’s Psychological Morphology from 1939. This work, painted in the year that the artist arrived in New York, foreshadows the influence he was to have on the New York school of painters, particularly Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock. This painting is estimated to sell for $100/150,000. Also by Matta and from the Hirschmann’s Collection is Untitled, circa 1955, which is expected to bring $90/120,000.