Botero matadors, Chile's Matta top Latam auction

Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:03pm EST
 
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By Walker Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A portrait of an infant matador and his bullfighting elders, painted by Colombian Fernando Botero, topped Christie's Latin American art sale, which also set auction records for postwar Brazilian, Colombian, Mexican and Argentine artists.

Botero's 1985 "Family Scene" of bullfighters fetched $1.7 million, the top lot of an $18.65 million sale on Wednesday evening, which also underscored strong demand for Chile's Matta, whose work bridges abstraction and surrealism.

"It was an excellent auction that shows the renovated dynamism of the art market," said Virgilio Garza, Christie's Latin American chief. "Psychologically, buyers are now willing to pay for great important works."

Voluminous Boteros sold well. The corpulent bullfighters in "Family Scene" feature matadors in their finery, including a crawling toddler wearing a red tie and white stockings.

Botero's bronze "Seated Woman" sculpture sold for $842,500.

Matta's 1956 "S'Enroseer" and his 1942 "Untitled" also ranked as top lots, respectively at $866,500 and $842,500.

Matta taught budding U.S. abstract artists in New York, such as Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock.

Typical of his surrealist, abstract blend is the 1942 "Untitled," inspired by sprouting Mexican volcano Paracutin. It mixes dropped pigment with strokes of liquid color, centered on a fury of fiery reds, pea-like greens and sunbeam yellows.   Continued...

 
<p>The artwork "Family Scene," by Colombian artist Fernando Botero is shown in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's Images Ltd. 2010/Handout</p>