Christie's announces November Latin American Art sales
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Christie's announces November Latin American Art sales
Fernando Botero, The Card Players. Estimate: $1,000,000-$1,500,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s presents two November sales for Latin American Art with a live auction taking place on 13 November, and a concurrent online-only auction running 6-18 November. The sales will offer modern and contemporary masterpieces from artists such as Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, Fernando Botero, Matta and Wifredo Lam, alongside a selection of 17th and 18th-century Spanish colonial paintings.

Leading the sale is Wifredo Lam’s masterpiece Femme Cheval (estimate $2,700,000-$3,700,000), one of just a handful of works still in private hands from the artist’s sought-after 1950s series. Other examples of Femme Cheval paintings are held in major museums throughout Europe and the Americas. The dramatic horse-woman embodies the international, syncretic nature of Lam’s work, combining Afro-Cuban imagery with Surrealist and Cubist tendencies. Femme Cheval references santería ceremonial practices of Lam’s native Cuba as well as the work of Picasso, with which the artist was intimately acquainted having lived in Paris for many years. Previously in the collection of Alfredo Boulton, one of Latin America’s most important 20th-century art critics and intellectuals, Femme Cheval is a particularly striking, bold three-quarter view of Lam’s favorite sensual, enigmatic figure.

Another highlight of the sale is Fernando Botero’s The Card Players (estimate: $1,000,000-$1,500,000), which features the artist’s iconic, voluptuous figures engaged in a game of strip poker. Coming to auction for the first time, the work has been in the same distinguished private collection since it was painted in 1986. One of a handful of large-scale paintings on the subject by the artist, another similar example sold for in excess of $1.6M. Drawing from art historical precedents such as the famous card player paintings of Paul Cézanne and Caravaggio, the work also references the artist’s native Medellín, Colombia. These figures are those Botero recalls from Medellín’s red light district, which fascinated him as a young, aspiring artist, and served as a rich trove of character studies, much like the Parisian brothels that captivated Toulouse-Lautrec, among others in the nineteenth century. The work exemplifies Botero’s skill at seamlessly integrating high art with popular culture.

Coveted contemporary Latin American works will be offered from the esteemed collection of Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, sold to benefit The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), which supports and fosters cultural understanding, as well as an educational dialogue among Latin American artists and global audiences. Works from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection include an exceptional collage cutout work by Arturo Herrera (estimate: $50,000-70,000), Estantería II by Los Carpinteros (estimate: $60,000-80,000 USD) and San Mateo 1.18 (estimate: $35,000-45,000 USD) by León Ferrari.

A selection of modern masterworks will be offered from the distinguished William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. Works by Latin American artists have always represented an important facet of The Louis-Dreyfus collections, with the inclusion of artworks such as Fernando Botero’s Tête de mouton (estimate: $20,000-30,000 USD), Antonio Seguí’s Fractura social (estimate: $70,000-90,000 USD) and a selection of works by Francisco Toledo, including La fiesta de los animales (estimate: $60,000-80,000 USD) and Carreta azul (estimate: $80,000-120,000 USD). Louis-Dreyfus’ appreciation of Toledo’s work was a constant throughout the evolution of his collection; he acquired his first work by the artist in the late 1970’s and his last as recently as 2014. Proceeds from the sales of artworks owned by The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation will benefit the Foundation and the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Rounding out the modernist section of the sale is Mathias Goeritz’s Circle and Square (estimate: $60,000-80,000 USD). These works are offered as two in one lot and together they are particularly luminous examples from Goeritz’s Mensajes series. While the Mensajes were born out of illness, their origins date to the death from cancer of his first wife, Marianne, they convey a sense of uplifting. Gleaming and truly iconic, in both an aesthetic and a religious sense, Goeritz’s Mensajes cultivate awareness of a spiritual presence, ritualizing our experience of viewing and, suggestively, bringing us closer to the divine.

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