Lot 28
  • 28

Armando Morales (1927-2011)

225,000 - 275,000 USD
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  • Armando Morales
  • Circo
  • signed and dated 81 lower right; also titled on the reverse
  • oil and beeswax on canvas
  • 57 7/8 by 72 1/8 in.
  • 147 by 183.2 cm


Acquired from the artist
Princeton Gallery of Fine Arts, Princeton
Private Collection, New York
Sale: Christie's, New York, Important Latin American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, November 24, 1992, lot 13, illustrated in color


Overall this work is in good condition and should be hung in its current state. The canvas, although heavily painted, is unlined and there are no areas of instability or cracking to the paint layer. A one-inch partial puncture in the upper left quadrant of this work has been repaired. There are scattered frame abrasions along the lower left edge and on the left side of the bottom edge. There is no evidence of in-painting or retouching under ultraviolet light.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Born in the remote lakeside city of Granada—a place not unlike the mythical town of Macondo immortalized by the Nobel Laureate author Gabriel García Márquez in his epic novel Cien Años de Soledad (A Hundred Years of Solitude)—the Nicaraguan artist Armando Morales has long made his hometown the principle focus of his artistic inquiry. Known for his verdant jungle landscapes, still lives, corridas or bull fights, and his Chiricoesque scenes of female bathers set against quasi-surreal landscapes, it is often the melancholic yearning for his homeland that serves as the main impetus and locale for much of his paintings. Living in self-imposed exile since the early 1960s, Morales' physical distance from his native country has made him more keenly aware of his national identity while heightening his desire to recuperate latent personal and collective histories that he transforms into metaphysical worlds rooted in memories both real and imagined.

Active since the late 1950s, Morales' work is informed by such modern art practices as post-impressionism, cubism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism. And while much of his early work reflected a decidedly non-figurative approach, by the mid-1960s faint, schematic references to the figure began emerging. The culmination of this process became more evident in the 1970s and 1980s which marked the maturation of Morales' artistic style. By the early 1970s depictions of the female nude became increasingly more prevalent in Morales' paintings, the latter often accompanied by a series of unexpected objects including still life motifs, bicycles and phonographs. Elements such as these coupled with his particular palette (blues and earth colors) and tonal gradations imbue these works with an overall sense of remoteness and mystery. Surfaces are painted in varying layers of color, alternating dark and light colors that are then darkened again, covered with tiny cross-hatched strokes (perhaps a nod to his training as a printmaker), and scraped down to reveal a textured, weathered, almost patinated surface. A crepuscular light hovers throughout further infusing these works with an overwhelming sense of somberness and physical and temporal distance. Executed in 1981, Circo is an excellent example of this technique and its overall visual effects. Female bathers and circus characters cavort along the lake among a unicycle, horse, and an assortment of geometric forms that suggest a theatrical-like stage set evocative of a beautiful, yet far away dream-like world in which the limitations of time and reality have been surpassed. While it is indeed true as Morales states, that Granada is his "storehouse of memories,"2 his metaphysical paintings transcend the specificity of their locale and suggests what one critic describes as "durable metaphors of nature and humanity"3—the remnants of what endures when all else around us in perpetual change.

1. As quoted in Christiane Viveros-Faune, "Chronicle of a Painting Foretold: New Works by Armando Morales," in Armando Morales, unpaginated.

2. Christiane Viveros-Faune, unpaginated.