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Major Torres-García discovery highlights Sotheby's Latin American art sale in New York
Ferdinand Bellermann, Costa De La Guaira A La Caida Del Sol, est. $700/900,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s spring sale of Latin American Art in New York on 28 and 29 May 2013 will showcase a range of Latin American painting and sculpture from the continents’ most important artists. This season the auction has a particularly strong selection of 19th-century landscape paintings and 20th-century Surrealism. The sale follows the success of both Latin American Art auctions in 2012 including the record setting May sale. The pre-sale exhibition opens on 25 May.

A highlight of the sale is Costa De La Guaira A La Caída Del Sol by Ferdinand Bellermann, one of the most beautiful landscapes of Venezuela ever painted (est. $700/900,000). The painting is a large scale panoramic view in the grand tradition of 19th century traveler landscapes. Bellermann sought inspiration from his oil sketch of the same title which is now in the collection of the Museum of Prints and Drawings in Berlin. Costa De La Guaira A La Caída Del Sol has been in the family of the noted collectors Charles and Eduardo Röhl since it was acquired from the artist in 1874.

In November 2012 Sotheby’s set a record for a piece of Latin American colonial art at auction with Portrait of Moctezuma II. Following that sale this May auction will include Portrait Of Moctezuma Y Cuahutemoc. The work is remarkable for showing both emperors regally attired in a combination of European breastplates and Aztec ceremonial dress as well as being an exceptional and early portrait (est. $300/400,000, left).

Leading the Surrealism section of the sale is Morphologie Psychologique, a 1939 masterpiece by the Chilean painter Matta (est. $800,000/1.2 million). At the outbreak of World War II Matta was among several artists including Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Andre Masson, and Andre Breton that left Europe for the US where they became major influences on the New York School. Morphologie Psychologique was painted shortly after Matta’s arrival and was a gift to his friend and supporter, pioneering American sculptor Mary Laurence Tonetti. It is likely that the veils of blue and green were inspired by her garden and waterfall next to the Hudson River.

Recuerdo De La Walkyria, a work on paper from the height of the Surrealist movement by Remedios Varo, is a further highlight of this section (est. $150/200,000, below left). Also featured are Juan O'Gorman’s Paisaje Lunático (est. $125/175,000), and Leonora Carrington’s Bat-Men (How True My Love) which once belonged to the famed Anglo-American Surrealist collector Edward James (est. $200/250,000). Other Mexican highlights include and Alfredo Ramos Martínez’s La India De Los Floripondios, a portrait of an indigenous Mexican woman surrounded by patura flowers (est. $800,000/1.2 million).

Joaquín Torres-García’s 1931 Composition Constructive dates from the height of the artist’s career and is a major discovery from the father of Latin American abstraction (est. $700/900,000). Composition Constructive was initially owned by Torres-García’s friend Lysiane Rey and it remained in the family for the next 80 years. The artits’s signature constructivist grid is filled with his uniquely symbolic vocabulary. The work is also signed and dated 19 Julliet 1929, and inscribed T No 1-Peinture, 3, rue Marcel Sembat Paris 18e on the reverse which refers to an earlier, horizontal composition which was later over-painted by the artist.

Latin American Abstraction is well represented in the sale. The group is led by Physichromie UBS Rouge by Carlos Cruz-Diez, one of the most ambitious art integration projects ever undertaken by the Venezuelan artist (est. $500/700,000). In 1978 Cruz-Diez successfully competed against Alexander Calder and Valerio Adami for a commission to design art and an environment for the interior for a new UBS building in Zurich. The final piece is over six meters wide and encompasses nearly the entire colour spectrum. It is one of the largest works ever executed by the artist.

Other important works in this part of the sale include Sergio Camargo’s Untitled (Relief No 263) from 1969 (est. $400/600,000) and Grand Relation Bleu Et Noir, a colorful early work by Jesús Rafael Soto that was originally shown at the trend-setting Signal Gallery in London in the 1960s (est. $200/300,000).

More recent art in the sale includes Fernando Botero’s interpretation of the Arcangel San Miguel from 1986 (est. $600/800,000). The painting is rich with Colombian and Andean iconography such as a carnation in the place of a sword and the royal feather plumes of Inca nobility in the angel’s hat.

In the Contemporary section Arturo Herrera’s Untitled from 2003 is one of the Venezuelan artist’s well known collage works made up of cut-out paper and deals with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (est. $100/150,000) while Blau Bart (Bluebeard) by Guillermo Kuitca, is from the beginning of his career and comes from the series that brought him to fame (est. $150/200,000).

Mexican National Patrimony Paintings
A highlight of the Mexican National Patrimony works in the sale is an 18th century screen painting entitled Biombo Con Tema De Cacería which shows strong influences of the Asian art imported to Mexico around that time (est. $600/800,000) and Vista Aérea Del Popocatépetl, which depicts the volcano that towers over Mexico City, by Dr. Atl (Gerardo Murillo) which was included in the 2011 retrospective of the artist’s work at Museo Colección Blaisten in Mexico City (est. $700/900,000).

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