Botero bronze, Brazil artists hit auction records

NEW YORK Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:01pm EST

1 of 4. Picture shows Fernando Botero's 2007 bronze 'Dancers,' which fetched $1.76 million on Tuesday evening at Christie's in New York. The sale set a record high price for a Botero sculpture at auction.

Credit: Reuters/Christie's/Handout

NEW YORK (Reuters) A towering bronze sculpture by Fernando Botero and works by several Brazilian artists set auction records during Christie's Latin American sale, the auction house said on Wednesday.

Cast in 2007, Botero's "Dancers" fetched $1.76 million. Weighing 3,500 pounds (1.6 metric tones) and 10 feet 5 inches tall, it is probably the tallest Botero sculpture ever auctioned, said Virgilio Garza, Christie's Latin American art chief.

Overall, Christie's Tuesday evening sale totaled $15.3 million.

"The results were exceptional. The Latin American art market is thriving, Nine records were set," he said.

Mexican artist Franciso Toledo's set an auction record with his 1975 "Vaca Roja" (Red Cow), which sold for $902,500. It evokes the colors and mysticism of Toledo's native predominantly Indian state of Oaxaca and features cobalt-blue crabs scrambling over a cranberry-red cow on a dusty red landscape.

"Toledo is the most important Mexican artist working today. He has influenced generations of artists," said Garza. "He bridges the gap between the Mexican school of art (of the earlier 20th century) and post-war avant-garde abstraction."

Post-war Brazilian art drew the evening's most fervent and fast-paced bidding, driven by the paucity of work for sale on the international market by key Brazilian artists.

"I think the news here is that Brazilian art shines. Five records were set from the 1960s and 1970s. Brazilan art did extremely well," said Garza.

Alfredo Volpi's "Bandeirinhas Estruradas," (Structured Tiny Flags) fetched $842,500, hitting a record. The work draws viewers' eyes around the canvas of red, black and white triangles set on a deep blue field,

Auction records were also set for Antonio Bandeira's 1955 "Blue Streets," which fetched $482,500 and Franz Weissmann's 1969 "Estructura," which sold for $386,500.

Jose Pancetti's 1957 Abate ("Serie Bahia No. 28) also set an auction high for his work when it fetched $362,500, as did Hercules Barsotti's 1966 "Losango-Proposicao multilegivel I," which sold for $170,500.

"Brazilian art has arrived. It is no longer an emerging collecting category. The eyes of the world are just looking at Brazil and their fascinating art history," said Garza.

Argentine artist Juan Mele also set a record with his 1948 "Pintura No. 110," which sold for $134,500.

At $290,500, "Lagong Performance Under Banyan Tree," set a record for a work on paper by Mexican Miguel Covarrubias.

(Reporting by Walker Simon, editing by Patricia Reaney)

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