CHRISTIE'S LATIN AMERICAN
It was "Magic Realism" at Christie's May 30 sale of Latin American art in New York, as many of the top lots were passed but the house nevertheless realized 12 new auction records. In the end, 47 of the 70 works sold -- 67 percent -- for a total of $4,251,25. The salesroom was quiet, even dignified, with much of the bidding coming over the phones. "It's the weakest Latin American auction we've had in a while," said a dealer, standing in the back of the room. "The sale positions Christie's at the forefront of the Latin American market," said Christie's Latin American specialist Ana Sokoloff. "We're moving in the right direction."
Top lot was Rufino Tamayo's Madre feliz (1949), which sold for $556,000 (with premium), splitting its presale estimate of $400,000-$500,000. A beautiful Joaquin Torres-Garcia Constructivist study for a 1944 mural in a Montevideo hospital (a mural that was destroyed by fire in 1978) sold for $446,000 (est. $400,000-$600,000). And a dramatic, 14-foot-long painting by David Alfaro Siqueiros, a scale study for a mural for the roof of the rectoría at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, sold for $270,000 (est. $220,000-$260,000).
The Siqueiros is part of the national heritage of Mexico, and though sold at auction in New York, cannot be removed from that country. A similar stricture helped derail the sale of three paintings by Diego Rivera (two stunning portraits and a landscape) and a 1951 bodegones still life by Frida Kahlo, all of which were passed. "Mexican collectors are still acting cautiously," said Sokoloff. "We need to give [new Mexican president Vicente] Fox maybe two more years," added her colleague, Rodman Primack.
Still, the auction tallied an impressive number of records, in part by including more contemporary works by younger artists, which were concentrated at the beginning of the sale. Fabian Marcaccio, a painter familiar to New York gallery-goers, made his auction-house debut in this sale -- he was born in Argentina and lived there for 10 years -- when Mutual Betrayal #2 (1991-92) sold for $25,850 (est. $20,000-$25,000). Other records were set for Cicero Dias ($94,000), Jose Gurevich ($52,875), Julio Alpuy ($52,875), Alfred Volpi ($35,250), Victor Grippo ($21,150), Regina Silveira ($17,625), Maria Fernanda Cardoso ($17,625), Pablo Siquier ($9,400), Marco Arce ($9,400) and Jose Antonio Suarez ($3,525). An ink drawing by Jose Clemente Orozco of peasants falling before a firing squad, a clear reference to similar works by Manet and Goya, sold for $32,900 (est. $20,000-$30,000), a record for a work on paper by the artist.
California's rolling blackouts won't affect the summer schedule at the U.C. Berkeley Art Museum -- it's closed to the public for the summer for a seismic retrofit. The job calls for steel columns in the museum lobby and atrium and bracing in the skylights and around the building's distinctive cantilevered second story. Reopening is scheduled for mid-September, with exhibitions of work by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Martin Puryear, Jessica Bronson and Ceal Floyer.
ORNAMENT IN BASEL
Visitors to the forthcoming Art Basel art fair, June 13-18, can also take in the ambitious exhibition "Ornament and Abstraction" at the city's Fondation Beyeler. On view June 10-Sept. 23, the show features almost 300 works, including a full-scale reconstruction of Mondrian's study, a photographic version of Klimt's Beethoven frieze and special installations by Sol LeWitt, Daniel Buren and Kara Walker along with objects and designs from Asian, Latin American and Oceanic cultures. Other artists featured range from Kandinsky, Matisse and Gauguin to Johns, Polke and Rosemarie Trockel.
BROIDA COLLECTION IN TEXAS
SoHo veterans will remember back in the 1980s, when art collector Edward Broida announced plans to open a new namesake museum in SoHo. He hired a curator, who arranged a two-year slate of exhibitions, only to be left high and dry as the fickle patron changed his mind and dropped his plans. Now, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is presenting "Selections from the Edward R. Broida Collection," July 8-Sept. 6, 2001. The show puts on public view a group of 40 works out of his 800-plus holdings in two main concentrations, with paintings by Philip Guston, Neil Jenney and Susan Rothenberg in the Beck Building and abstract works by Carl Andre, John McLaughlin, Alfred Jensen, Sean Scully and others in the Lovett Gallery. More than 20 other Broida works are to be installed throughout the museum. "The museum is very pleased, said MFAH director Peter Marzio, "that Edward Broida has generously chosen to share his great eye for 20th century art with MFAH visitors."