• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12166

    Latin American Art

    25 - 26 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 33

    Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)

    Le Sabbat (Immagine No. 5)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)
    Le Sabbat (Immagine No. 5)
    signed and dated 'Wifredo Lam, 1964' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    41 3/8 x 51 1/8 in. (105 x 129.9 cm.)
    Painted in 1964.


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    This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.
    We are grateful to Eskil Lam for his assistance cataloguing this work.


    I have been fascinated by Wifredo Lam since I was a teenager, a ragazzo, in 1960 when the artist decided to settle in Albisola after being charmed by the warm climate and its people. And of course, as he began to consider working with ceramics—the whole place teemed with ceramists, so Albisola was the best place to both live and work. I still remember going to the construction site of his studio/home where he was overseeing all aspects about this with a local building constructor. At summer’s end I finally purchased a work on paper. That was the start of my collection! I eventually bought other paintings, prints, and watercolors by Lam from galleries like Giorgio Upiglio Grafica Uno Studio, Galleria Gianni Schubert, Nuovo Saggitario, Galleria Arte Borgogna and others.
    --Guglielmo Spotorno, artist, poet, art collector and businessman.

    The 1960s were remarkably productive and professionally rewarding for Wifredo Lam. Indeed, the decade began with his marriage to the vibrant Swedish artist Lou Laurin in New York in 1960. His children Eskil Sören Obini and Jan Erik Timour were born in 1961 and 1962 respectively and in 1969 Lam welcomed another son, Jonas Sverker Enrique.[1] Moreover, throughout the decade, Lam received prestigious awards, traveled frequently, and more importantly, his work was included in numerous international exhibitions. The artist had discovered the small Italian town of Albisola in the late 1950s and in 1960 eagerly decided to set up a home/studio there. He felt at home in the art scene in the small seaside village. A welcoming town, it would also allow him to explore new media such as printmaking and ceramics and also make associations with galleries throughout Italy including Galleria Pagani del Gratacielo, Galleria Milano, Galleria Levi among others. In Albisola, “Lam had found a climate and landscape similar to that of Cuba,” Cuban critic Mario López Oliva noted. He worked most of the day and in the evenings he entertained friends, family and artists who came to call. Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana were frequent visitors. In the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution, Lam had lost his house in the district of Marianao and all its contents which included many paintings and this seaside spot seemed an ideal place for a new home and studio.[2]

    Le Sabbat (1964) dates from this prodigious period when Lam developed a more refined and concentrated manner in the treatment of his imagery. A shift from the use of naturalism gives way to a symbolic minimum that allowed him to intensify the emotional impact he was seeking. As scholar Lowery Stokes Sims has noted, the works from this period “…are characterized by a somber, monochromatic palette against which Lam creates a complex interplay and interpenetration between line and color, void and mass, frontality and background.”[3] Lam’s distilled forms appear angular, geometric, and linear. The three hybrid beings in Le Sabbat although an ensemble, are clearly distinct and have the power of individuality. Lam’s subtle use of colors such as mauve, yellowish greens, purplish greys heightened by areas of white, animate the trio who are not subsumed by the flat grey background. While Lam’s mature work shows invention, the artist clearly never abandoned his mythic iconography, “the spirit of magic and pantheism” underlying his Afro-Cuban world view.[4]

    Margarita Aguilar, Doctoral Candidate, The Graduate Center, New York.


    1 M-P. Fouchet, Wifredo Lam, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1976, 208.
    2 L. S. Sims, Wifredo Lam and the International Avant-Garde, 1923-1982, Austin: University of Austin Press, 2002, 165-166.
    3 Sims, 169.
    4 Ibid., Giulio Blanc, 40.


    Provenance

    Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva.
    Galleria Arte Borgogna, Milan.
    Galleria Schubert, Milan
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1973.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF GUGLIELMO SPOTORNO, ITALY


    Literature

    Exhibition catalouge, Wifredo Lam, peintures récentes, Paris, Galerie Villand et Galanis,1968, no. 3 (illustrated).
    Exhibition catalogue, Wifredo Lam Œbilder Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker Vom Rath, 1969, no. 12 (illustrated).
    Exhibition catalogue, Wifredo Lam, Milan, Galleria Arte Borgogna, 1970 (illustrated in color).
    M. Leiris, Lam, Milan, Fratelli Fabbri, 1970, no. 166 (illustrated in color).
    A. Jouffroy, Lam, Paris, Éditions Georges Fall, Bibli-Ops, 1972, p. 39 (illustrated in color).
    M-P. Fouchet, Wifredo Lam, 1st Edition, Barcelona/Paris, Ediciones Polígrafa/Cercle d'Art, 1976, p. 122, no. 140 (illustrated in color, titled El aquelarre).
    S. Gasch, Wifredo Lam a París, Barcelona, Ediciones Polígrafa/Galería Joan Prats, 1976, p. 121, no. 37 (illustrated in color, titled El aquelarre).
    M-P. Fouchet, Wifredo Lam, 2nd Edition, Barcelona/Paris, Ediciones Polígrafa/Cercle d'Art, 1989, p. 126, no. 140 (illustrated in color, titled Witch's Sabbath).
    Exhibition catalogue, I Surrealisti, Milan, Nuove edizione Gabriele Mazzotta, 1989, p. 348 (illustrated in color).
    M. López Blázquez, Wifredo Lam, 1902-1982, Madrid, Globus Communicación, 1996, no. 45 (illustrated in color).
    L. Laurin-Lam and E. Lam, Wifredo Lam Catalogue Raisonné of the Painted Work, Volume II 1961-1982, Laussane, Acatos, 2002, p. 177 and 278, no. 64.13 (illustrated).
    J. Leenhardt, Wifredo Lam, Paris, HC Éditions, 2009, p. 219 (illustrated in color).


    Exhibited

    Paris, Galerie Villand et Galanis, Wifredo Lam, peintures récentes, 1968, no. 3.
    Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstkabinett Hanna Bekker Vom Rath, Wifredo Lam Œbilder Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, 3 July-16 August 1969, no. 12.
    Milan, Galleria Arte Borgogna, Wifredo Lam, 1970.
    London, Gimpel Fils Gallery/New York, Gimpel Gallery, Wifredo Lam, December 1970-January 1971, no. 7. This exhibition also travelled to Zürich, Gimpel and Hanover Galerie, 1971.
    Cologne, Bankunst Galerie, Der Geist des Surrealismus, Albin Brunovski, Gemälde, Druckgraphik, Wifredo Lam, Œbilder, November 1971-January 1972, no. A6.
    Milan, Palazzo Reale, I Surrealisti, 1989-1990. This exhibition also travelled to Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, 1990.