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Botero and Tamayo Power Sotheby’s to a Record $26.8 Million for Latin American Art
By Andrew M. Goldstein
NEW YORK— Charged by an ascendant market for modern and contemporary work from Mexico, Cuba, and South America, Sotheby’sheld the most successful Latin American art sale in its history this week, bringing in a record $21,672,625 in its evening auction last night and $5,157,900 in today’s morning session, making for a combined total of $26,830,525.
A single-artist section of the evening sale titled “Fernando Botero: A Celebration” — a lineup of zaftig pieces by the Columbian artist consigned mainly from two private collections — made for the bulk of the market fireworks. Botero’s 1972 painting “A Family” selling for $1.4 million and “Man on a Horse,” a 1992 bronze of a chubby bowler-hatted businessman astride a rolly-poly steed, sold for $1,172,500, a record for the artist in the medium. The spree brought in a total of $7.5 million, confirming the easy-on-the-eyes artist’s dominance of the contemporary Latin American art market.
Rufino Tamayo, meanwhile, led the evening’s other section, titled “A Discerning Eye: Latin American Masterpieces From a Private Collection.” A large oil-on-canvas of a mother and child rendered in flat planes of earthen colors, “Madre Divirtiendo a Su Hijo,” helpfully dated “O-46” by Mexican artist, sold for $1.4 million, coming toward the top of its $1 million-$1.5 million pre-sale estimate. Two other Tamayo works fetched high sums: the 1973 “Mujer en Éxtasis,” a strikingly pink woman gripped by seeming erotic bliss, which sold for $962,500, while a cheerful 1941 painting of apples and two luscious slices of melon, “Sandías,” fetched $602,500.
Wilfredo Lam also had a strong showing with his 1945 painting “Les Oiseaux Voilés,” an abstract and ominous oil-on-canvas that the Cuban artist first showed with Pierre Matisse, the son of the French master. The raw work sold for just over $1 million. (Last November, another, more fleshed-out Lam, the 1970 “Les Abalouchas Dansent Pour Dhambala, Dieu de l’Unité,” had been the standout lot at Sotheby’s Latin American sales, selling for $2.2 million.)
Another high-scoring lot was Sergio Camargo‘s 1965 “Relief,” a white, space-invading sculptural canvas with a cluster of cylinders protruding from its center, which sold for $842,500. The impressive, if somewhat disconcerting, work was sold from a private Swiss collection. Cildo Meireles‘s surrealistic table-and-chairs-setting “In-Mensa,” a wooded sculpture from 1982, achieved auction record for the Brazilian conceptualist, selling for $518,500 — more than quadrupling its pre-sale high estimate of $120,000.
Latin American art icons Joaquín Torres-García and Jesús Rafael Soto also proved golden. “La Guitarra,” a boldly colored 1935 painting that Torres-García executed with plenty of graphic verve, fetched $374,500, while the artist’s vintage 1920 New York street scene, “Fourteenth Street (Business Town),” sold for $362,500. Soto, who is currently the subject of a show at the Christie’s-owned Haunch of Venison gallery, was represented in the auction by “Gran Azul,” a late wall piece from 1999 that exemplifies the artist’s signature perceptual experiments — with painted metal sticks dangling in front by nylon strings — but with an added market-friendly blast of Yves Klein-esque blue acrylic blaring from its wooden backboard, evoking a top-of-the line television set on standby.
The Latin American market action continues this evening and tomorrow morning at Christie’s.