Bali, Andes paintings soar in Latam art auction

Fri May 27, 2011 3:59pm EDT
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By Walker Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A sensuous scene in Bali and Andean-inspired landscapes scored artist records at Christie's Latin American sale but demand was weak for works by Fernando Botero while prices soared for lesser-known artists.

Painted in Bali, Mexican Miguel Covarrubias' 1932 "Offering of Fruits for the Temple" fetched $1.02 million in Thursday evening's $16.64 million sale.

He was one of nine artists setting new records, some going for several times previous highs.

"We are very excited at some of the prices achieved by very important Latin American artists who haven't had the market recognition at that level," said Virgilio Garza, Christie's Latin American art chief.

Created during Covarrubias' honeymoon in Bali, the painting shows topless young women in crimson and lime green skirts. Atop their heads are triangular baskets of green fruit.

"This particular work really appeals to a very national audience and Covarrubias is known for those pictures there," said Garza, adding bids came from Indonesia.

"There is whimsy to it, a sense of humor, a joy of life."

During his life, Covarrubias won fame for caricatures of celebrities and politicians in 1930s Vanity Fair, which still sells pricey reproductions of his Greta Garbo cover.   Continued...

<p>Photo shows, Mexican Miguel Covarrubias' 1932 oil on canvas "Offering of Fruits for the Temple." Painted in Bali, the work fetched $1.02 million in Christie's Latin American sale on Thursday evening, setting a record for the artist at auction. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout</p>