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.
Brazilian Adriana Varejao's "Paisagem Canibal" (Cannibal Landscape) set an auction record at $602,500.
Argentine Julio Le Parc's flickering early 1960s "Seuil de Perception, Continuel-lumiere-Mobile" set a record at $506,500. It consists of wood, metal, nylon strings and light bulbs.
Brazilian Helio Oiticica's "Mataesquema (Dois Brancos) fetched $362,500.
Colombian Alpio Jaramillo's blend of Cubism and social realism, "9 de abril," paints the fury and slaughter of the 1948 urban riots which convulsed Bogota after the assassination of a progressive presidential candidate.
The painting's sale for $110,500 marked the first time Jaramillo's work was brought to international auction.
Mexican Julio Galan's oil, ribbon and found objects on canvas, his 1992 "Mis Amigos Secretos" (My Secret Friends), set a record at $98,500.