Published: January 9, 2007
The evening and day sales of Latin American art conducted at Christie’s on November 21 and 22 offered collectors an array of paintings, sculpture and artifacts spanning the centuries between colonial days and today.
The sales’ results brought the two-day total to nearly $21.8 million.
Virgilio Garza, head of the Latin American art department, said he was thrilled with the results of the evening sale, “which reflected the energetic forces that have been driving the market over the past weeks. A case in point was the spectacular new world auction record at $1.8 million for Alfredo Ramos Martínez’s exuberant and joyful ‘Mujeres con flores,’ a painting that incorporates all the characteristics the market is looking for — freshness, excellent quality and superb artistic merit. It was also very rewarding to see 11 new records take shape, including for Tomas Sánchez, Mariano Rodríguez, Augustin Cárdenas and Alfredo Castañeda. We were also very pleased with the results of the historical paintings from Mexico and Venezuela and the pair of the pistols that belonged to the Argentinean hero General Belgrano.”
The evening sale was sale was 89 percent sold by lot and 84 percent by value.
The Martinez painting was the sales’ top achievement, and Colombian artist Fernando Botero, who was omnipresent in the sale, claimed the next three rungs. His sumptuous and mural-size “Los Amantes,” 1969, in which the dominating female figure is reminiscent of the lush nudes of Rubens, Titian and other Old Masters, revealed Botero’s enduring interest in depicting amorous couples engaged in an intimate activity. It sold for $1.08 million. Among the other offered Botero works, “Self-Portrait in Costume of Velázquez,” 1986, realized $1,057,600 and “Shoeshine,” an oil on canvas painted in 1989, finished at $912,000.
A painting rich in history, Arturo Michelena’s “Firma del Acta de la Independencia” sold for $688,000. One of the great masters of Venezuelan Nineteenth Century painting, Michelena based his “Independencia” on the painting with the same theme and composition by Martin Tovar y Tovar as it was exhibited during the great salon of Venezuelan art, organized in 1883 to commemorate the centennial of Bolivar’s birth. Although Tovar y Tovar’s work was its main source of inspiration, Michelena’s “Independencia” differs in its technical execution, coloring and expressive content.
A world auction record for the artist was set for Cuban artist Tomas Sánchez (b 1948) when his acrylic on canvas “Oir las agues,” painted in 1995, sold for $620,800.
Rounding out the sale’s top ten lots were Fernando Botero, “Dancers,” bronze with black patina, edition five of six, $632,000; Rufino Tamayo (Mexican, 1899–1991), “Mujer y su fantasma,” oil on canvas, 1974, $567,000; Rufino Tamayo, “Saltimbanqui,” oil and sand on canvas, painted in 1982, $542,400; and Fernando Botero, “Donna sul letto,” bronze, executed in 2003, edition four of six, $542,400.
Prices reported include buyer’s premium. For information, 212-636-2000 or www.Christies.com.
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