Sale of the Week, May 20-26: Sizzling Latin American Art Auctions in New York

A detail of Matta's "La révolte des contraires," 1944
(Courtesy Christie's)

SALE: Latin American Art

LOCATION: Sotheby's, Christie's, and Phillips de Pury New York

DATE: May 21-24

ABOUT: Latin American art week begins next Monday at Phillips de Pury with an evening sale focused on more contemporary, avant-garde works, especially the neo-Concretist group of Brazilian artists such as Helio Oiticica and Lygia Clark (whose foldable, kinetic sculptures, entitled "Caranguejo," 1984, could bring $30,000-40,000). Colombian artist Fernando Botero continues to be one of the most sought-after Latin Americans at auction, especially his signature sculptures of rotund women. Phillips is offering a white marble sculpture, "Reclining Woman with Drapery" (2004) for an estimated $600,000-800,000.

As the week wears on, the focus will shift more toward the modern, and the top estimated lots at Sotheby's and Christie's are all from the 1930s and 40s. At Christie's, the top expected lot is a canary-yellow hued abstract "inscape" by Matta, "La révolte des contraires" estimated to fetch $1.8-2.5 million. The work has never been offered at auction, and has had only two or three owners since it was painted in 1944, according to Latin American department head Virgilio Garza. Thre is also a wide selection of Botero works, mostly paintings, and a somber 1937 canvas by Uraguan modernist Joaquin Torres-Garcia, "Grafismo universal sobre fondo gris" (est. $1-1.5 million).

The last evening sale of the week is at Sotheby's on Wednesday, where a rare Diego Rivera painting featuring a young peasant girl holding a basket, staring despondently across the room, will hit the block. "Niña en azul y blanco (retrato de Juanita Rosas a los diez años de edad)" (1939), which was last seen at auction in 1992 at Christie's, is estimated to sell for $4-6 million. Sotheby's will also be offering a part of the collection of the late billionaire art collector Theodore Forstmann, mostly works by Botero and Rufino Tamayo


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