| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 16 A rare, life-size, anonymous
portrait of Aztec emperor Moctezuma II and a ground-breaking
surrealist painting by Chilean artist Roberto Matta are among
the top lots in Latin American art auctions next week in New
Art experts hope that record sales of post-war and
contemporary art this week will have a spillover effect and
fuel demand for Latin American art during three days of sales at
Sotheby's and Christie's.
"Just thinking of what just happened, of $1 billion of art
sold in three short days in New York City is quite a
phenomenon," said Axel Stein, head of Sotheby's Latin American
department. "We're very interested in seeing what the result of
that will be" for Latin American art.
Sotheby's top-priced lots, at between $1.5 million and $2
million, are Matta's 1943 oil on canvas "Nada" (Nothingness) and
Mexican Dr. Atl's "Manana Luminosa" (Luminous Morning), a
10-foot (3-meter-wide) 1942 landscape of a semi-arid plateau
dotted by snowcapped volcanoes in the distance.
Another highlight at the sale is expected to be a colonial
portrait of Moctezuma II, the Aztec chieftain killed by Spanish
The anonymous painting, "Portrait of Moctezuma II," from the
final quarter of the 17th century, is expected to fetch at least
$1 million. The only other colonial work of the same scale and
subject is in a museum in Italy, said Stein.
Matta's "Nada" shows plant-like forms hurling outwards with
their stems ringed by sloping rays. A central butterfly-like
shape ejects beams in slices of green, red, turquoise and bright
"Matta opened a whole new world. He was as interested in
what was going on inside matter as he was in cosmic realities,"
said Stein. "No surrealist had ever gone there, because
surrealism had been about how the mind works and what happens in
At Christie's, the top-priced lot is a bronze sculpture by
Colombian Fernando Botero, "Horse," done in 1999, which has a
pre-sale estimate of $700,000 to $1 million.
Another Botero work, his 1981 painting "Nun Eating an
Apple," will also go under the hammer. Christie's described it
as a whimsical representation of original sin showing a portly
nun, with a bible in her left hand and the forbidden fruit in
her right. Its estimated sale price is up to $700,000.
Mexican master Diego Rivera's "Madre e Hijos" (Mother and
Children), is expected to fetch $800,000. Painted in 1926, it
depicts a barefoot boy standing next to his sister, who is
ensconced in their mother's lap. The children show a gravitas
beyond their years.
Christie's estimates its total sales on Nov. 20 and 21 will
be between $17.28 million to $23.97 million.
"We look forward to more landmark auction moments for the
Latin American sale," said Virgilio Garza, head of Christie's
Latin American art department.
Sotheby's expects its sales on Nov. 19 and 20 to total at
least $20 million.