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Brisk Bidding Propels Christie’s Latin American Art Auction

by WorthPoint Staff (12/01/10).

The top lot of Christie’s Latin American Art sale was Fernando Botero’s “Family Scene” (1985), which surpassed its high estimate of $1,500,000, ultimately realizing $1,706,500.

NEW YORK – Works by Diego Rivera, Fernando Botero, Rufino Tamayo, and Beatriz Milhazes realized top prices at Christie’s two-session sale of Latin American Art on Nov. 17 & 18 in New York. The auctions, conducted before a crowded sale room, achieved 14 new world auction records and a grand total of $23,323,275.

Virgilio Garza, the head of Latin American Paintings at Christie’s, said that buyers did not hold back, as bidding was brisk.

“The fall of 2010 has brought a renewed energy into the saleroom, with extraordinary prices for key artists,” Garza said. “Buyers bid aggressively on prized works by Fernando Botero, Matta, Rufino Tamayo and Julio Le Parc, among others who realized exceptional prices. Brazilian works performed outstandingly well with 100-percent sell-through, notably works by Beatriz Milhazes and Hélio Oiticica.

Six new artist records were established at the sale, including those for Jorge Jiménez Deredia, Julio Galán, Adriana Varejão, Hélio Oiticica and Omar Rayo.

“Christie’s was also proud to offer a historic masterpiece by Colombian artist Alipio Jaramillo for the first time at auction, which surpassed its estimate by five times at $110,500,” said Garza.

The total sale of 325 works was comprised of works from the 18th to the 21st century and represented artists from 14 countries across Latin America, including Chile, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua.

The sales’ top lot was Fernando Botero’s (Colombian, b. 1932) “Family Scene” (1985), which surpassed its high estimate of $1,500,000, ultimately realizing $1,706,500. The remarkable “Family Scene” is inspired by Botero’s fascination with the artistry and sport of tauromaquia or the bullfight. Here however, rather than just exalting the bullfight, Botero celebrates the family—the most universal of human institutions. The family sits proudly for a group portrait—its youngest member and most diminutive torero, still crawling. It was a season of successful Boteros, with artist’s monumental “Seated Woman” (2002), a bronze sculpture with a dark brown patina selling at an astounding $842,500.

Overall, Brazilian paintings dominated the sales with highlights such as Beatriz Milhazes’ (Brazilian B. 1960) “Machina ” 1993 -1994, which achieved $722,500. “Machina” juxtaposes Brazilian cultural references and imagery in this vibrant work. The artist’s feminized aesthetic—her exuberant use of patterning and layering of delicate motifs allude to the arts and crafts related traditionally to women’s lives but to a larger extent, they update the language of abstraction.

A long-overdue world auction record was achieved for Adriana Varejão (Brazilian B. 1964) for “Paisagem cannibal,” which realized $602,500. The work is a striking visual metaphor, exploring the colonial history that continues to exist in the present. The artist viscerally portrayed the physical wounding of a landscape—a wound that can be seen as a metaphor for the complex forces of history. Another notable highlight was Matta’s electric work “S’Enroséer,” oil on canvas, painted in 1956, which realized $866,500.

World Auction records were achieved for:

Adriana Varejão$602,500 for “Paisagem cannibal
Julio Le Parc$506,500 for “Seuil de Perception, Continuel-lumiére-Mobile”, 1960-62
Hélio Oiticica -$362,500 for “Metaesquema (Dois brancos”), 1958
Cundo Bermúdez$134,500 for “Flora la recogedora de sueños”, 2008 (*world auction record for a sculpture by the artist)
Alipio Jaramillo$110,500 for “9 de abril”, circa 1948 (First time offered at auction)
Julio Galán$98,500 for “ Mis Amigos Secretos (My Secret Friends) ”, 1992
Jorge Jiménez Deredia$68,500 for “Eternidad
Omar Rayo$56,250 for Kumo XV”, 1973
Eduardo Bortk - $32,500 for “Colors of Nature I
Carlos Cruz-Diez$27,500 for “Transchromies Portfolio
Jesús Ortíz Tajonar$22,500 for “Untitled
Loló Soldevilla$22,500 for “Untitled”, 1955
Marco Maggi$22,500 for “Motherboard (West) ” 2006-2007
Manuel Herrera Cartalla$10,625 for “Flores de la corona de Cristo”,1952

For more information about this auction, visit the Christie’s Web site.

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