New York – Christie’s is pleased to present the spring sale of Latin American Art, which will take place over two daytime sessions on 28 May. This spring’s highly anticipated sale of Latin American art presents nearly 250 works by the leading artists in this in-demand category. Headlining the sale are Rufino Tamayo’s iconic Mujer con sandía, Joaquín Torres-García’s exceptional Composition TSF and Fernando Botero’s Man Going to Work, all from esteemed private collections and the latter two making their first appearance in the market in nearly fifty years. Additional highlights include important works by modern and contemporary masters Mario Carreño, Wifredo Lam, Jesús Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez as well as an impressive group of works by some of Brazil's most emblematic artists of the 20th and 21st centuries: Alfredo Volpi, Cândido Portinari, Beatriz Milhazes, Cildo Meireles, Ernesto Neto and Tunga.
Joaquín Torres-García’s Composition TSF (estimate: $1-1.5million) pictured above, center, is a classic painting from his critical years in Paris (1926-32), when the principles of Constructive Universalism, his syncretic theory of abstraction, began to take root. This work suggests a personal and cosmic universe through its arrangement of signs, set in shallow relief within a box-like structure shaded in black, white, gray, and ocher. In the lower left-hand corner, the boat anchors the image, evoking rites of passage and discovery--or, in an autobiographical sense, Torres-Garcia's own transatlantic voyaging. At the center of the painting, the arrow and compass indicate direction and precision; the scales (balance), the ruler (measurement), and the clock (time) project humanist synergies that converge in the geometricized person of Universal Man, in the upper right-hand corner, tasked to restore cosmic harmony to the world. The addition of a hot air balloon marks the presence of technology and the modern world, an orientation reiterated by the letters TSF--"télécommunications sans fil," or "wireless communication"--that give the painting its title.
The selection of works by Fernando Botero is led by his pivotal Man Going to Work (Hombre yendo a la oficina) (estimate: $1.2-1.8million) – pictured left. Executed in 1969, Man Going to Work is an early example of one of the most important subjects in the artist’s oeuvre: the traditional family. While a seemingly idyllic image of wealthy domestic harmony, as in all of Botero’s work, the conventional is made strange through the artist’s radical manipulations of proportion. Here, the husband is dwarfed by his colossal wife and daughter, who appear entirely too large for their well-appointed home, which ironically is barely contained by the ample space of the extra-large canvas. Man Going to Work dates from a transformative period in Botero’s career. Having already developed his penchant for volumetric distortion, he began to refine his broad-painterly style of the 1950s and early 60s, resulting in a more polished brushwork that would come to define his mature style. Combining loosely rendered foliage with more tightly composed figures, Man Going to Work maintains hints of Botero’s earlier style while foreshadowing the direction of his later work.
The quintessential Mexican modernist painter Rufino Tamayo is well represented by Mujer con sandía (estimate: $400,000-600,000) – pictured on page one, left, a gouache on paper from 1939, a pivotal year in the artist’s career. This remarkable example depicts many of the iconic motifs from the artist’s oeuvre: a primivitized depiction of an isolated female figure, in this case a dark-skinned indigenous woman with rebozo wrapped around her head, and the artist’s signature watermelon slice. A study in geometric forms, the work highlights the sharp spikes of the maguey, which echo the stylized lines of the rebozo folds, the architectonic qualities of the figure’s mask-like face, and the pointed ends of the watermelon. Thus, the work is an illustration of Tamayo’s strategic synthesis of Mexican content, primitivism, and modernist forms to create a unique vanguard.
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