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Indepth Arts News:

"The Indestructible, Unfathomable and Timeless World of Latin American Art"
1999-11-22 until 1999-11-23
Christie's Auction House
New York, NY, USA United States of America

The New York sale will feature a spectacular group of works of art by some of Latin America’s most important artists, including L’Esprit Veillant (The Watchful Spirit) by Wifredo Lam (Cuba); Encuentro Tropical (Tropical Encounter) by Diego Rivera (Mexico); La Visita (The Rich) by Fernando Botero (Colombia), and Venus Negra (Black Venus) by Rufino Tamayo (Mexico). In addition, because of the immense popularity of contemporary works by today’s leading Brazilian artists from the Bruno Musatti Collection that Christie’s sold at top prices last spring, collectors will again have an opportunity to acquire exceptional works from the Collection. PRICES RANGE FROM $4,000 THROUGH $60,000.

The London sale will consist of eight dramatic paintings featuring the history of the Mexican Conquest, which are to be auctioned as part of Christie’s Old Master Pictures sale on December 17. Considered to be the most important Colonial paintings ever seen at auction, the works, to be sold as one lot, will be on exhibit at Christie’s Rockefeller Center in New York, November 18-22.

Latin American Art, November 22 and 23 Christie's New York Wifredo Lam (Cuba, 1902-1982), L’Esprit Veillant, oil on canvas, 1944 Spending his early years in Madrid and Paris, Lam became close friends with two giants of 20th century art, André Breton and Pablo Picasso. Their influence and Lam’s growing interest in African and Oceanic sculptures, folk lore and voodoo are easily evident in Lam’s masterful depictions of that mythical world like L’Esprit Veillant (The Watchful Spirit). Beautifully rendered in bright colors, unlike Lam’s usually less colorful works, and filled with ritualistic and dreamlike forms that stem from the cults of the Cuban and African traditions of the Caribbean, the painting is considered one of Lam’s masterpieces. ESTIMATE: $800,000-1,200,000.

Diego Rivera (Mexico, 1886-1957), Encuentro Tropical, oil on canvas, 1944 Famous for his murals, Rivera was also a skilled portrait artist, who was particularly popular among Americans. Commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, The American couple depicted in this painting were the new owners of the Old Hearst Ranch in California. They purchased the ranch from William Randolph Hearst and also commissioned the painting of Encuentro for the Celebrity Bar in the newly refurbished Ranch, which was to become a luxury resort. The resort would accommodate many prominent guests, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, The Hon. Herbert Hoover and Hollywood legend Clark Gable. Unlike any other of his commissioned portraits, in Encuentro Rivera puts himself at the center of the painting. While the Marshalls posed for Rivera, the artist also used photographs. Painted in his studio during a cold winter, the festive mood, vibrant colors of the various fruits, and the couple’s bare arms were painted from Rivera’s imagination, incorporating the artist’s superb skills as a portraitist, narrator and, above all, colorist. ESTIMATE: $400,000-600,000.

Rufino Tamayo (Mexico, 1899-1991), Venus Negra (Black Venus), oil on canvas, 1965 Throughout Tamayo’s career, the human body and the female body in particular provided the source for esthetic reflection. Consequently, Tamayo created an extraordinary and extensive series of paintings devoted to the female nude. The artist’s stylized figures and heavy, rotund forms all have their origin in pre-Hispanic and popular Mexican art. The Venus Negra with her large breasts and broad hips resembles a fertility goddess with an erotic glow, established by the delicate shading, to imply a warm and protective interior. At first, the viewer sees a corpulent body but looking closely, delicate lines bring out the contours of a slender body. ESTIMATE: $400,000-600,000.

Fernando Botero (Colombia, b. 1932), La Visita (The Rich), oil on canvas, 1968 One of the most prolific and imaginative artists of the 20th century, Botero’s works are recognizable by the round and inflated figures—whether they be nudes, still lifes or statues. La Visita, a fantastic portrayal of a wealthy woman with voluptuous curves and perfectly rolled hair piled atop her head standing next to her equally rotund husband. The pale-pinkish faces of the couple stand out against the dark backdrop of the painting, which Botero inhabited with a nest of hissing serpents—a possible reference to the age-old theme of Adam and Eve, in which the serpent is the evil tempter hungry for material wealth. ESTIMATE: $400,000-600,000.

The Bruno Musatti Collection of Contemporary Art Started in the 1960s, during the most productive and provocative years for Brazilian art, the Musatti collection is considered among the best of its kind. The most renowned contemporary artists of Brazil, including Mira Schendel, Waltercio Caldas, Jac Leirner, Cildo Meirelles, Valeska Soares, Tunga, among others, liberally used various media and formats in art and promoted at the same time a Dadaist attitude through a variety of art events, installations, and assemblages. Challenging perception and heightening appreciation of everyday experiences, almost all the artists in this spectacular collection use in their art the symbolism of familiar objects to express subject and meaning. Highlights include Sin titulo, oil on burlap, 1963, by Mira Schendel (1919-1988), estimate $40,000-60,000); Unidade VI, industrial paint on wood, 1958, by Lygia Clark (1920-1988), estimate $28,000-32,000); Sao Joao Batista, rubber and infrared lamp, 1977-1980, by Tunga (b. 1952), estimate: $24,000-28,000); Estojo Geometrico, wood box, iron and steel axes, 1975, by Cildo Meirelles (b. 1948).

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