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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Works of art by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam and Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo are expected to be among the highlights of Sotheby's Latin American spring art auctions next week, which will also include a special sale of abstract art.
Tamayo's "La Familia," which has been in his family and is fresh to the market, is expected to be the top lot of Sotheby's two-day sales on May 26 and 27 with a presale estimate of up to $1.6 million.
"His work with sand, earth and pigments is extraordinarily evident in this painting," Axel Stein, Sotheby's head of Latin American art, said on Friday.
"His composition is very round," he added, "and it makes it one of his best pieces of his late period."
Two works by Lam, who combines elements of surrealism and primitivism in much of his work, are also considered highlights of the sales.
"Les Oiseaux Voiles" could bring in as much as $1.5 million and "Le Sorcier de l'Ocean," is expected to fetch up to $1.2 million.
Although abstract art is usually associated with painters from Russia, France and the United States, Stein said Latin American artists have also been influenced by the movement, which will be recognized with a special sale "Latin America, the Legacy of Abstraction."
Lucio Fontana of Argentina, Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto and Spanish-Uruguayan painter Joaquin Torres-Garcia are among the artists whose work will be included in the abstract sale.
"There is a very important school that hasn't been recognized to this day." said Stein. "So let's say we took this opportunity and we looked to put together this group."
Stein added that he expected the upcoming Latin American art sales to benefit from the record-breaking auctions earlier this month, in which top-tier works sold for all-time highs.
A 1955 oil painting by Pablo Picasso, "Les Femmes d'Alger (Version 'O')" smashed the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction when it fetched $179.4 million in New York. The previous record was $142.2 million paid for a Francis Bacon triptych, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," in November 2013.
"There's a general feeling that the art market in general is very strong, and we believe we can surf that wave, if you wish," said Stein.
Latin American art sales at Christie's in New York will be held on Wednesday and Thursday.
Reporting by Soren Larson for Reuters television; Writing by Patricia Reaney