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Two masterpieces from the Cleveland Museum of Art lead Christie's Evening Sale of Latin American Art
La Rosa by Matta (estimate: $250,000-350,000). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- On November 19, Christie's Evening Sale of Latin American Art will be led by Rufino Tamayo’s Women Reaching for the Moon (estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000), which hails from the Cleveland Museum of Art and has been exhibited internationally at such renowned institutions as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., and Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City, among others. La Rosa by Matta (estimate: $250,000-350,000) will also be sold on behalf of the museum and proceeds from both works will benefit future acquisitions.

Rufino Tamayo (Mexican, 1899-1991) was recognized for his masterful use of surface and color and his commitment to a thoroughly modernist language. The 1940s were a great creative period for Tamayo and the artist garnered widespread attention in his newly adopted home of New York. Many of his works captured the zeitgeist of a war-torn world through visual metaphors, but Women Reaching for the Moon, painted in 1946, expresses the optimism of the post-World War II era, a shift in Tamayo’s oeuvre. Recognized early on as a major work by a promising artist, this painting entered the Cleveland Museum of Art's collection in 1947, the year after its completion. Widely published and exhibited, Tamayo depicts two women striving for the stars and moon, representing hope and human potential. The cosmos and the search for man’s place within it was a constant theme in Tamayo’s work. This interest in the cosmos has resonance with contemporaneous paintings of the New York School as well as pre-Columbian art which frequently features the sun, moon and stars.

Matta (1911-2002), the visionary Chilean, was a dynamic figure on the New York scene since his arrival in New York from Paris in 1938. The artist served as a conduit between the European Surrealists who had gathered in New York, and the emerging New York School. Though intimate in scale, La rosa, painted in 1943, possesses all of the trademark elements that by the mid-1940s had become hallmarks of Matta’s production. In the present work, Matta channels a morphological landscape painted with vibrant hues of green, red, orange, black, and yellow set against a horizonless background. The painting’s title, La Rosa is reminiscent of the surrealist penchant for verbal puns and recalls Marcel Duchamp’s pseudonym Rrose Sélavy, a play on words intended to sound like the French phrase “Eros, c'est la vie” (“Eros, that's life”). Matta pays a veiled homage to Duchamp while further underscoring the sensual nature of this painting—a work that is overflowing with the persistent and primordial forces of life, creation, and evolution.

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