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    Sale 1907

    Latin American Sale Evening Session

    19 - 20 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 10

    Claudio Bravo (Chilean b. 1932)


    Price Realised  


    Claudio Bravo (Chilean b. 1932)
    signed and dated 'Claudio Bravo, MCMLXXIII' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    67 x 47 in. (170.2 x 119.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1973.

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    Claudio Bravo's meticulously rendered images of surprisingly common objects and scenes have a photographic or even lifelike quality to them. Rather than simply reproducing reality, however, Bravo transforms it. Pinball exemplifies this alluring aspect of Bravo's work; to this otherwise familiar scene, the artist adds an element of strangeness. The strong slant of the floor causes the pinball machine to tilt forward threatening to slide out of the picture plane.

    A mysterious man opens the door to this room. The presence of someone else is palpable but we are unsure about the unfolding narrative. Bravo, however, lets us be participants as we link elements within the painting that may reveal part of a story. A draped jacket, a biographical leitmotif Bravo frequently employs in several of his paintings such as Leather Jacket of 1983 and Self-portrait of 1971, are clues to Bravo's participation in his own work. Clearly a reference to the work of Baroque master Diego Velázquez but also Francisco Goya--Bravo's inclusion is rather subtle. The figure enters this tightly compressed space. The large size of the canvas indeed makes this room almost enterable as though we could become part of this unfolding scene. Bravo thus presents a game, implied by the pinball machine itself, of illusion versus reality.

    An uncommon subject in art, the pinball machine, without political or social significance, is a part of popular culture. Like the Pop artists before him, Bravo here creates high art out of the common, everyday object. He even seems to adopt the style of Pop icon Roy Lichtenstein in the backboard of the pinball machine with its bright colors and comic-book-like imagery. While perhaps not intentional, it is not surprising that Bravo evokes the modern movement that rejected abstraction and reintroduced reality into painting.

    Pinball illustrates Bravo's command of his craft with its carefully rendered details, most notable in the reflection of the backboard in the glass. Bravo's technical genius is only rivaled, many have said, by the seventeenth century Spanish realist masters Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Zurbarán. Pinball's exceptional execution confirms such high praise.


    Private collection, Madrid.
    Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 16-17, 1989, lot 46 (illustrated in color).
    Galería el Museo, Bogotá.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    Exhibition catalogue, Claudio Bravo: Painter and Draftsman, Madison, Elvehjem Musuem of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1987, p. 68, no. 21 (illustrated).


    Madison, Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Claudio Bravo: Painter and Draftsman, August-October 1987, no. 21. This exhibition later traveled to Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, October- December 1987 and Duke University Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, January-March 1988.