Saturday June 24, 2017

Auction Preview: Hot Week for Cuban Art

Christie’s scores a coup with “Cuba Moderna” single-owner collection

Wifredo Lam, Sur les traces (also known as Transformation), 1945

Courtesy Christie's

A wealth of exceptional contemporary and modern works dominate Cuban art in next week’s Latin American sales, especially at Christie’s. Outstanding contemporary works are also on offer, many of them carrying attractive estimates.

For the first time in recent memory, all three sales take place (or begin) on the same day: next Tuesday, November 22. Phillips kicks off the schedule at 11 a.m., followed by Christie’s at 5 p.m. and Sotheby’s at 7:30 p.m.

The Sotheby’s sale continues the next day, Wednesday, November 23, at 10 a.m., and the Christie’s sale continues that day at non.

Here are some of the works we’ll be watching next week.

PHILLIPS

In the 105 lots in the Phillips sale, contemporary Cuban works outnumber modern. We consider lot #1—the large-scale 2004 watercolor El barrio by Los Carpinteros, estimated at $40,000–$60,000—to be one of the most interesting works in the sale.

Los Carpinteros, El barrio, 2004

Courtesy Phillips

Lot #36, two works by former Los Carpinteros member Alexandre Arrechea, Europe and At Dusk, both 2007 (est. $40,000–$60,000) are classic early Arrechea.

Some works appear to have the potential to surpass their high estimates. Among them are lot #35, Manuel Mendive’s Untitled, c. 1996, est. $15,000–$20,000; and lot #92, Abel Barroso’s ATM (Cajero automatic), 2007, $5,000–$7,000.

Two works by José Bedia could also reach beyond their estimates: lot #83, Más de lo mismo y uno de necio, 2000, $10,000–$15,000, and lot #90, Otra estación, 1997, $20,000–$30,000.

Also worth watching: lot #33, Untitled, 1962, by Salvador Corratgé, estimated at $20,000–$30,000; and lot #34, José Rosabal, Blanco y negro, 2013, $10,000–$15,000.

SOTHEBY’S

Modern works outweigh contemporary in this sale. Lots worth watching include two early Wifredo Lam canvases: lot #90, Untitled, 1938, estimated at $200,000–$150,000; and lot #129, the surrealistic Noche de Gloria, 1932, estimated at $80,000­$120,000.

Wifredo Lam, Untitled, 1938

Courtesy Sotheby's

Other notable works include lot #84, a colorful 1944 landscape by René Portocarrero, Paisaje, estimated at $50,000–$70,000, and lot #82, Novicias, a c. 1931 canvas by Fidelio Ponce de León, estimated at $15,000­–$20,000.

CHRISTIE’S

At 234 lots, Sotheby’s has the distinction of being the largest of the three sales this season. But for Cuban art, the Christie’s sale towers above the others.

René Portocarrero, Paisaje de La Habana (Landscape of Havana), 1961

Courtesy Christie's

This is in large part due to a sale within the sale, titled “Cuba Moderna: Masterworks from a Private Collection.” Assembed by a single owner over three decades, the close to 40 works include outstanding pieces by vanguardia and 20th-century modern artists, including Amelia Peláez, René Portocarrero, and Wifredo Lam.

Mariano Rodríguez, Pelea de gallos (Cockfight), 1942

Courtesy Christie's

Among the “Cuba Moderna” works on offer is lot #47, Wifredo Lam, Sur les traces (also known as Transformation), a 1945 oil estimated at $2,500,000–$3,500,000.

Amelia Peláez, Untitled, 1950

Courtesy Christie's

Other excellent works carry comparably high estimates, including lot #48, Untitled, 1950, by Amelia Peláez, $800,000–$1,200,000; and #50, Carlos Enríquez, Héroe criollo, 1943, $400,000–$600,000.

Tomás Sánchez, Meditación bajo un signo de aguas, 1995

Courtesy Christie's 

Contemporary works to watch in the “Cuban Moderna” section include #60, Manuel Mendive, Orieyeyo, 2006, $40,000–$60,000; and a beautiful early Tomás Sánchez canvas, Meditación bajo un signo de aguas, 1995, $300,000–$400,000.

Lot #143, Sirena pájaro, 2004, by Roberto Fabelo, could fly past its estimate of $40,000–$60,000. 

The entire sale leads off with a recent Sánchez work, lot #1, Contemplador en diagonal, 2016, attractively estimated at $60,000–$80,000.

The watercolor Piscina con trillo de bloques, 2004, by Los Carpinteros (lot #207), $35,000–$45,000, is another potential breakout lot.