Friday December 15, 2017

Preview: Cuban Art in Next Week’s Latin American Sales

Top lots and best bets for record-setting results

Amelia Peláez, El Jardín, 1943

Courtesy Sotheby's

Next week, the three major auction houses hold back-to-back Latin American art sales starting Tuesday morning, November 21. While we await the results for Cuban artworks in tonight and tomorrow’s contemporary auctions--previewed last week--here’s a sale-by-sale roundup of Cuban lots to watch next week.

It’s interesting to see that in some cases, estimates for work by Sandú Darié, Amelia Peláez, and other artists have taken a sharp leap upward, reflecting increased interest in their work by galleries, collectors, and curators.

Phillips Latin America

Tuesday, November 21  11 a.m.

One contender for a new auction record may well be Lot 2, a painted wood assemblage by Sandú Darié. Executed  c. 1950–1969, Untitled (from the series ‘Formas geométricas móviles’), the large-scale work carries an estimate of $80,000–$120,000—considerably higher than many of his pieces at auction. (The Phillips sale includes two additional Darié works, estimated at $12,000–$18,000 and $15,000–$20,000 respectively.)

Sandú Darié, Untitled (from the series ‘Formas geométricas móviles’), c. 1950–1969

Courtesy Phillips

Havana-born Zilia Sánchez is also positioned to hit a new auction high with Lot 4, Topologías eróticas. The shaped canvas, painted in 1970, is estimated at $90,000–$120,000, double some of her high estimates in the past.

Zilia Sánchez, Topologías eróticas, 1970

Courtesy Phillips

Other notable works in the Phillips sale include The Oracle at Agua Dulce Airbase, a 2012 canvas by Julio Larraz estimated at $90,000–$120,000, and Untitled, a 1999 canvas by Manuel Mendive, estimated at $25,000–$30,000.

Sotheby’s Latin America: Modern Art

Tuesday, November 21  2 p.m.

The marquee lot in Sotheby’s sale is undoubtedly El Jardín, a 1943 gouache on paper by Amelia Peláez. Its estimate of $400,000–$600,000 is significantly higher than many recent auction estimates for her work. It also brings to mind the record set by another 1943 Peláez gouache, Las Hermanas, which in spring 2013 blew past its $250,000–$300,000 estimate to reach $569,000 (with buyer’s premium)—well within the estimate for the current work.

Tomás Sánchez, La Garza y el Meditador, 2002

Courtesy Sotheby's

The Sotheby’s sale also includes two notable works by Tomás Sánchez, La Garza y el Meditador (2002), estimated at $300,000–$350,000, and A la Orilla (1996), at $200,000–$300,000.

Christie’s Latin American Art – Evening Sale

Tuesday, November 21  6 p.m.

Tomás Sánchez leads Christie’s evening sale with Lot 1, A veces la gracia parece una cascada (2017), carrying a more accessible estimate of $60,000–$80.000.

Mariano Rodríguez, Mujer con Gallo, 1941

Courtesy Christie's

In the Fall 2016 Christie’s auction, Mariano Rodríguez’s 1942 Pelea de gallos broke the $1 million mark, turning in a sale price (with buyer’s premium) of $1,087,500. In the current sale, his 1941 canvas Mujer con gallo (Lot 11) is on our watch list. Estimated at $250,000–$350,000, it’s unlikely to beat Pelea de gallos, but could surpass its high estimate.

Also on our watch list, another work by Amelia Peláez: Lot 12, Naturaleza muerta, a 1949 gouache and India ink on paper, estimated at $300,000–$400,000.

Carmen Herrera, Diagonal, 1952

Courtesy Christie's

At tonight’s Phillips contemporary art sale, a canvas by Carmen Herrera could set a new record for the artist. Lot 70 in this Christie’s sale may be another opportunity. Painted in 1987 after a lost work from 1952, Diagonal is estimated at $500,000–$700,000, and could go higher.

Over the past few years, the estimates on Roberto Fabelo’s work have edged upward, with some works turning in prices well above their estimates. Lot 72, Ovo, a diptych painted in 2014, is estimated at $120,000–$180,000. Hitting the top figure would mean a new record at auction for the artist.

Roberto Fabelo, Ovo, 2014

Courtesy Christie's

Christie’s Latin American Art – Day Sale

Wednesday, November 22  11 a.m.

Roberto Fabelo is also represented in Christie’s day sale, where his 1997 canvas Pequeño teatro (Lot 88) is estimated at $40,000–$60,000.

Antonio Gattorno, The Star Fisherman, 1942

Courtesy Christie's

René Portocarrero, Cathedral, 1942

Courtesy Christie's

Other notable works include The Star Fisherman, a 1942 canvas by Antonio Gattorno (est. $40,000–$60,000) with a lengthy exhibition history dating from the 1940s on (Lot 83); and Cathedral, a 1942 brilliant watercolor by René Portocarrero. Estimated at $20,000–$25,000, it had been previously owned by Cuban poet José Lezama Lima.

Los Carpinteros, Mueble gordo, 2003

Courtesy Christie's

Among contemporary artists, the large-scale 2003 drawing Mueble gordo by Los Carpinteros (est. $25,000–$30,000) and Nsense, a 1993 shaped canvas by José Bedia with added deerskin and antlers ($25,000–$35,000) are poised to surpass their high estimates.