• Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 20 July 2020


WIFREDO LAM, Femme Cheval, oil on canvas, 50 13/16 x 38 7/16 in., estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000 USD

New York – Christie’s announces two July sales for Latin American Art with the live auction taking place on 30 July, and an online auction running 21 July to 4 August. The sales offer a comprehensive selection of 17th and 18th-century Spanish colonial painting alongside modern and contemporary masterpieces from influential artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Carmen Herrera, Leonora Carrington, Mario Carreño and Francisco Toledo.

The collection is led by Femme Cheval by Cuban artist Wifredo Lam (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000 USD) and Dos amantes contemplando la luna by Rufino Tamayo (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000 USD).

The figure of the Femme Cheval first appeared in Lam’s Fata Morgana drawings (1940-41), made to illustrate André Breton’s Surrealist poem, but her evolved expression in his paintings from 1947 to 1950 marks the apotheosis of her persona. She is distinguished by a variety of head shapes—round, trumpet, detached, hatted, doubled, spiked—and anatomical stylizations, whose references span Santería (the horned Eleggua head) and traditional Spanish dress (the mantilla). As a personification of ritual possession in Santería, the femme cheval evinces the lush carnality of the feminine body and its supernatural powers. That year (1950) saw Wifredo Lam open solo exhibitions at Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York and at Havana’s Parque Central, earning international plaudits as he further cultivated his femmes cheval.

Dos amantes contemplando la luna by Rufino Tamayo, executed in 1950, exemplifies the artist’s self-identified “poetic realism” as he painted the everyday, absent of demagoguery. As a student and collector of pre-Columbian art, Tamayo further charged his abstracted figures with his study and knowledge of sculptural form, notably the thick bodied, short limbed ceramic animal and warrior figurines of Jalisco and Colima in West Mexico.

The sale also includes vibrant works by Fernando Botero, including Good Morning (estimate: $500,000-700,000 USD) and Reclining Woman (estimate: $600,000-800,000 USD); Alfredo Ramos Martinez, La India (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000 USD); and Francisco Toledo, Vaca en un laberinto (estimate: $700,000-900,000 USD).

Another highlight of the sale is Carmen Herrera, Noche de Salamanca (Castilla) (estimate: $700,000-900,000 USD), which revisits her earlier Spanish series, citing the Castilian kingdom celebrated for the baroque splendor of its eighteenth-century Plaza Mayor. Salamanca’s architectural grandeur is elegantly schematized into pure geometry – an irregular black polygon centered on a square diptych.

The sale also features works by female Latin American surrealist artists including Leonora Carrington, La joie de patinage (The Joy of Skating) (estimate: $400,000-600,000 USD) and Alice Rahon, Luna de octubre (estimate: $60,000-80,000 USD).

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