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  • Latin American Art Sale at Christie's N.Y. On May 25 &26
    April 26, 2005 NEW YORK.

    Fernanco Botero, A Family (estimate: $300,000-400,000).

    On May 25 and 26, Latin American art with its intensely rich colors and often mystical content will be the focus of an evening sale and day sale, offering just under 200 lots. Latin American Art not only highlights major works by internationally renowned and established artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera and Fernando Botero, it will also serve as an eye-opener to artists from our time such as José Bedia, Tunga and Guillermo Kuitca.

    A quintessential Latin American painting, both by its color scheme as well as its flair to absorb European influences into a completely personal style, Rufino Tamayo’s La Silla Amarilla (estimate: $700,000-900,000) has all it takes to charm. Executed in 1929, one of the most important creative phases in Tamayo’s life, this work gives a splendid post-cubist rendering of its subject, a chair and fruits, and it is a masterpiece of the still life genre. Vibrant with warm tones of yellows and reds while set in a slightly geometrical composition, La Silla’s heart beats to the tune of Cézanne, a painter whose work Tamayo had admired and absorbed during his visit to New York museums. Decades after La Silla had been sold to New York art dealer, Pierre Matisse, it re-entered the Tamayo family when it was acquired by the artist’s wife, Olga. La Silla Amarilla is now being offered by a Private New York Collection.

    Other examples of Rufino Tamayo’s work presented in the sale are Comediantes, a work painted in 1986 (estimate: $400,000-500,000) and Discusión acalorada (estimate: $500,000-700,000), a superb work from the Collection of Ruth and Harvey Kaplan that blends two of the most celebrated characteristics of his mature style – inventiveness and a magnificent color palette.

    A long shared history exists between Acueducto (estimate: $600,000-800,000), a splendid view painted in Arceuil by Diego Rivera, and New York. Executed in 1918, this work was included in Rivera’s first retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1939. Acueducto is a highly intellectual painting and arguably the most accomplished evocation of Cézanne’s constructionist space and subdued palette. It reflects the spirit of the great masterpieces Rivera painted during his 1917 – 1918 French period.

    A glimpse of the creative process always sheds enormous light on the understanding of an artist’s way of painting and thinking. An excellent example is Rivera’s Study for the ‘Slaves in the Silver Mines’ panel for mural in Cuernavaca (estimate: $150,000-200,000), executed in charcoal on lined tan paper (now laid down on paper and mounted on canvas). This work was drawn to scale to be used as a sketch for a mural cycle in the Palacio de Cortez in Cuernavaca. Rivera had received a commission from the American Ambassador to Mexico, Dwight W. Morrow, to represent the history of the state of Morelos in a series of mural paintings. The present scene depicts the Aztec slaves working in the silver mines. Mural studies by Rivera are rare and to have one of this caliber and size is exceptional.

    One of last season’s highlights was a superb Lam gouache, very modernist and very reflective of Picasso’s style, which sold for $881,000 and established a world auction record for the artist. This season, a second work from this fantastic 1930s period will appear on the market, offering another view of Lam’s self-portraits that were so characteristic at this stage of his career. Untitled (estimate: $350,000-450,000) depicts the romantic Lam, artist and lover, with his beloved Balbina Barrera, in a slightly erotic scene which bathes in a warm, golden glow.

    From Lam’s slender figures to the imposing presence of the Botero models is but a step in the wide spectrum of Latin American art. The Colombian master of voluptuousness is presented with three works. A Family (estimate: $300,000-400,000) unites many Botero elements: the bourgeois family with child and nanny with a clear visible church in the background, all brought together in a rather dense composition. On the contrary, The Model (estimate: $300,000-400,000) directs the viewer’s attention straight to the solid figure who serves as the one and only focal center of the work. Sitting Woman (estimate: $400,000-600,000) is the one of the artist’s much coveted sculptures.

    History has its place in the sale with a unique 18th century five panel folding screen, painted on both sides with a visualization of proverbs (estimate: $250,000-350,000). The painted screen became a popular genre in the New World and illustrating proverbs served both a decorative as well as a didactic purpose. The decorations are based on the book of emblems by Otto van Veen, published in 1607 in Antwerp.

    A pair of 19th century portraits by Jose Agustin Arrieta beautifully illustrate the academic and formal art of portraiture as it was taught at the Escuala de Dibujo, founded in Puebla by order of the King of Spain in 1815. El Mandadero and La Sirvienta (estimate: $300,000-400,000 for the pair), painted circa 1865, clearly demonstrate an influence from the traditions of European art exemplified by artists such as Velazquez and Salvator Rosa.

    Moving into our own times, the sale offers a strong group of modern and contemporary artists whose works will be presented both in the evening sale as well as the day sale. The evening features Enio Iommi’s, Ritmos lineales (estimate: $20,000-25,000); Alfredo Hlito’s Efigie hendida II (estimate: $20,000-25,000) and Gunther Gerzso’s Avila negra (estimate: $100,000-150,000). Avila negra, the most autobiographical work by the artist, clears the way for the development of the iconography for which he is best known.

    The day sale will emphasize four different groups and movements: artists from the ‘Escuela del Sur,’ foreign painters in Mexico, modern Latin American painting and contemporary Latin American painting. Featured artists include Manuel Pailos (Máquina constructive, estimate: $6,000-8,000); Conrad Wise Chapman (Mexican farm boy, estimate: $18,000-22,000); Matta (Untitled, estimate: $70,000-90,000); Mario Cravo Neto (four color photographs, estimate: $10,000-15,000) and Guillermo Kuitca, whose Carnegie Hall (estimate: $40,000-60,000), an acrylic and colored pencil painting on canvas, will make all New York lovers’ heart beat faster.