• Latin American Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 2222

    Latin American Sale

    17 - 18 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 32

    Alejandro Xul Solar (Argentinian 1887-1963)


    Price Realised  


    Alejandro Xul Solar (Argentinian 1887-1963)
    signed and dated 'X. 1920' (lower left)
    watercolor and gouache on paper
    6 x 8 3/8 in. (15.2 x 21.3 cm.)
    Executed in 1920.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Fundación Pan Klub, Museo Xul Solar, signed by Natalio Jorge

    "I'm extremely satisfied as I see how I, all on my own, without any external inspiration of any kind, have worked along the lines of what will be the dominant trend of higher art in the future," Solar wrote to his father in 1912.(1) He had just arrived in Europe, where he would spend the next twelve years traveling between his mother's family home in Zoagli, near Genoa, and the major artistic capitals of France, Germany and Italy. Like his fellow Argentines Alfredo Guttero, whom he saw in Paris, and his good friend and occasional traveling companion Emilio Pettoruti, Solar found spiritual kinship with the European avant-garde whose work he encountered for the first time. The mysticism and primitive abstraction of Der Blaue Reiter, the Munich-based artist group led by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, was a signal early revelation for the young Solar, who immediately recognized the innate sympathies between their project and his own. Their partiality to the watercolor medium was shared by Solar, who gained a fluid mastery of the technique during his time in Europe and who cultivated a parallel aptitude for the deeper philosophical and symbolic meanings of art.

    "An esoteric and an occultist," Solar charted a sui generis path between symbolism and expressionism during his European sojourn, Patricia M. Artundo has observed. During this formative period, the artist supplemented the formal influences of Der Blaue Reiter and others with an intense, personal study of the mystical world, making contact with the magical fraternity Astrum Argentum, with London's Theosophical Society, and in Stuttgart with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Solar's idiosyncratic vision began to appear in works from this time in which "colour conquers the foreground," Artundo notes, and: "where what is formal submits to the exteriorization of its inner life and of this new world whose exploration has begun: angels are there (not necessarily those marked by the Judeo-Christian tradition), as are the religious subjects, in addition to direct contact with divinity, or life after death.(2)"
    Solar's intuitive feeling for syncretic divinities and myriad occultist traditions would manifest itself in works throughout his career, in which symbols become avatars for personal and universal astral visions.

    The present work belongs to a series of paintings that Solar began during the First World War titled Ofrenda Cuori ("Heart Offering"), of which several interpretations exist, and relates as well to a pair of contemporary watercolors on the theme Anjos ("Angels"). The two winged female figures in the present Ofrenda have a markedly Egyptian countenance, expressed through their elongated profiles and stylized features, and may relate to Solar's frequent trips to Turin, the "città magica" whose apocryphal foundation in the 15th-c. B.C. is credited to an Egyptian prince. Solar was familiar with the collections held in Turin's Museo Egizio, which hold works that date from Pharaonic times, and the symbolic correspondences between the female deities in Ofrenda and an ancient astral universe would have seemed auspicious if not altogether prophetic. An Egyptian aspect pervades other watercolors from this period, such as Flechazo, 1918, which also features a decorative border around its edge. Even in this early period, Solar was attentive to the decorative arts and design, and to their relationships to the visual arts and architecture, and the abstract patterning that backgrounds the two figures in the present work relates to his Tapiz ("Tapestry") series, in which he explored visual motifs and relations of color. Solar's far-ranging and esoteric universe, teeming with mystical figures and numinous signs culled from a wide cultural and artistic provenance, is keenly distilled in Ofrenda, whose allusive monumentality far exceeds its intimate scale. "There is a strange mystery in these fantastic visions," Pettoruti wrote of his friend's work in 1920. "The imagination, free of any control from reality seems to look into privileged spaces and uncover a whole world of ghosts and unknown impressions."(3)

    1) X. Solar, quoted in Xul Solar: Visiones y revelaciones, Buenos Aires: Malba--Colección Costantini, 2005, 245.
    2) P. M. Artundo, "Working Papers: An Introduction to a Xul Solar Retrospective," in Xul Solar: Visiones y revelaciones, 191-92.
    3) E. Pettoruti, quoted in Xul Solar: Visiones y revelaciones, 245.


    Private collection, Buenos Aires.
    Private collection, New York.