Argentine art stands out in lackluster Latam sale

Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:38am EST
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By Walker Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Argentine art drew record prices at Christie's auction house to become the standout in an otherwise lackluster Latin American art sale.

Mexican sculptor Francisco Zuniga's "Grupo Frente al Mar," or "Seaside Group", which fetched $1.2 million, was the highest selling work at the evening auction which totaled $10.7 million.

But the biggest buzz and bidding was for Argentine art.

"Argentina is starting to come a long way, achieving recognition elsewhere," said Virgilio Garza, Christie's chief Latin American specialist.

"A lot of these figures are being rediscovered and revisited by art history," he added.

Customarily, Argentine art prices lag behind work produced by at least half a dozen Latin American countries, including artists from its tinier neighbors Chile and Uruguay.

Emilio Pettoruti's 1934 Cubist portrayal of a guitarist, "El Cantante" or "The Singer," fetched $782,000, the most ever paid for Argentine art.

Tango musicians are a staple of Pettoruti's work, according to Christie's. Pettoruti uses outlines, color gradation and geometric shapes in "El Cantante" to produce an oscillatory pattern between the background and the guitarist.   Continued...