Soto, Gego and Camargo Highlight Latin Works in Contemporary Art Day

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Latin American artists have been at the forefront of 20th century avant-garde movements such as: Geometric Abstraction, Kinetic, Conceptual, Concrete and Neo-Concrete Art. As such, Sotheby’s has integrated these highly sought-after works into our Contemporary Art auctions. Click ahead for a look at the Latin American art highlights to be offered in the Contemporary Art Day Auction on 17 November.

Contemporary Art Day Auction
17 November | New York

Soto, Gego and Camargo Highlight Latin Works in Contemporary Art Day

  • Jesús Rafael Soto, Sans Titre (Vibración). Estimate $300,000–400,000.
    In 1960, Venezuelan filmmaker Angel Hurtado together with art critic Clara Diament de Sujo made a short film describing the various stages involved in Soto’s art making process. Following is a transcript of this innovative film.



    The artist begins by randomly collecting scrap / thrown out as rubbish / useless / that must be used to make a mural. There is no preconceived plan. No predetermined form / things will develop under their own impetus and dictate their demands. . . . The rest [of the] panel is finished and left aside. [Soto] now begins to compose a mesh of wires / a sort of tangle of knots and sharp points. He uses a factory as his workshop, and if he does not use brushes or pencils it is because it is more appropriate to use a power saw/ a mallet/ a file/ a drill/ a hammer/ pliers / a welder and even an electric one / if not an anvil and a crucible. Flames / sparks / re begin to attack the wire so that it can be twisted / broken and joined until it forms a whole in accordance with the secret plan scarcely formed in Soto’s imagination . . . Now he applies himself to painting lines…, which are to be used as the background. A slow process, painting lines, always more identical lines / furrows of white paint. . . All the different parts are starting to come together / the work begins to assume its final unity. The whole thing is imbued with vibration, and the drama of forces in motion can begin. (Angel Hurtado and Clara Diament de Sujo, "Así nace un mural con Jesús Soto," CAL, no. 3, Caracas May 1962).


  • Gego, Dibujo Sin Papel 85/17. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    Conceived during the last decades of her life, the present work is an outstanding example from the artist’s Dibujos sin papel (Drawings without Paper) series. Crafted by hand and suspended at a slight distance from the wall, this delicate wire construction reveals its ephemeral materiality by the light shadow it casts against the wall. Artisanal in nature, fragile, and transparent, it contests the industrial canonized principles of Gego’s Constructivist background.


  • Sergio Camargo, Relief No. 246. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    Relief No. 246 (1969) is representative of Sergio Camargo's signature approach to a sculptural practice simultaneously rooted in the constructivist methodology of the first half of the twentieth century and in the informal and abstract geometric tendencies that defined Brazil's post war vanguard artists of the Concrete and Neoconcrete art movements.

  • Alejandro Otero, Coloritmo 55. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    One of the leading exponents of the Venezuelan op and kinetic movement, Alejandro Otero developed an exhaustive investigation on the limits of twentieth-century painting; a lifelong experimental search which led him to pivotal formal consequences. Otero’s extraordinary series of seventy-five Colorhythms, or Coloritmos as they are known in Spanish, stands as the artist’s most original contribution to the field of modernist abstraction.

  • Luis Tomasello, Atmosphère Chromoplastique No. 404. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    Upon moving to Paris, Tomasello became quickly involved with the burgeoning Lumino-Kinetic movement, working closely alongside such peers as Takis, Mack, Tinguely, and Soto. Seeking to move beyond the principles of Madí and focus on the manipulation of light and color, Tomasello began his seminal series, Atmosphères Chromoplastiques (Chromo-plastic atmospheres), to which the present work belongs. In this series, Tomasello uses the recurring medium of white wooden relief to diverse and entrancing effects, exploiting the capricious nature of light to create works that change constantly as the viewer moves through their space.

  • Edgar Negret, Aparato Mágico. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    In the Aparatos Mágicos series, volumes are synthesized in planes of organic contour; each one of them is assembled giving rise to new geographies in which the reds and blues are fixed in capricious forms over the black backgrounds. These forms represent useless machines which Negret consider like magical objects. In the words of critic Walter Engel  "the essence of images, ideas, facts of our time were wisely configured with these geometric elements ...and thus the machines or better -apparatuses- were created with an exclusive aesthetic purpose. Now freed from any mechanical or practical function, they became "magical" thanks to the abstract play of pure forms "



     



    Marta Rodríguez, Banco de la República, Bogotá, 2011

  • Gunther Gerzso, Triad. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    Obsessed with precision, Gerzso studied old master painting meticulously. Of particular interest to him was their rigorous application of radiant color to build luminous layers of paint. His treatment of Masonite, specifically the smooth surface of the reverse, allowed him to yield silken and porcelain-like surfaces.

  • Claudio Bravo, Prisma 13; Prisma 4; Prisma 9 [Three Works]. Estimate $200,000–250,000.
    Claudio Bravo's exquisitely rendered Prisma 13, Prisma 4, and Prisma 9 exude a technical virtuosity unrivaled in Latin American painting. Synthesizing classical and post-modernist concerns ranging from the Spanish Baroque tradition to color-field theory, the present works belong to Bravo’s widely recognized signature series: Packages (Paquetes). First executed in the 1960s, the Package series emanate an aura of mysticism transcending mundane materials into a perfectly accomplished trompe-l'oeil reality.

  • Jesús Rafael Soto, Color y Blanco Superior. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    “The Ambivalencias are the solution I found to a number of issues that were more or less implicit in [the work of] the great Western artists from the end of the nineteenth century onward, but that had not been developed. As a result of the Fauves, of individuals like Matisse, Léger, Delaunay, the Russian constructivists, and in general those who tried to use color independently of form and extra-pictorial content, the power and ambiguity of color become manifest, and we witness its capacity to generate the illusion of a space that is optically variable, as some dots seem to advance while other seem to recede. Later, Swiss artists and some Germans like Josef Albers proposed the independence of color, but without consciously solving what I have called the spatial ambivalence of color. I then felt that color needed and demanded a space-time solution that could find a place within the spatial ambiguity that I was interested in revealing.” Jesús Rafael Soto, Jesús Rafael Soto: In Conversation with Ariel Jiménez, New York, 2011, p.94-5

  • Carlos Cruz Diez, Physichromie No. 1838. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    The following is an excerpt of a conversation between Mari-Carmen Ramírez, Wortham Curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Carlos Cruz-Diez. 



     



    MCR: What do you mean when you speak of inaccurate interpretations of the term “kinetic”?



     



    CCD: The term has—almost universally—come to symbolize banalities such as something that moves; a small object with a little motor that creates optical effects in a work of art. That perception of “kinetic” has nothing to do with a new concept of art that I and other artists in this movement decided to develop, confronting the hegemonic trends of the time. In our case, the concept of “the kinetic” prompted us to redefine the notion of art itself, that is, “art,” surely, but understood in terms of exploring other creative avenues, and the role of art in society. Our proposal, in other words, was to abandon painting’s discourse and turn away from what had already been exhausted in search of new horizons. Contributions from each of those kinetic artists went far beyond little gadgets that moved. I repeat: Their contributions represent far more profound “concepts” that have nothing to do with ridiculous interpretations of what simply moves, or with a pattern of small lines, or some little lights that turn on and off. The banality of that shallow assessment is what I reject.  



     



    Carlos Cruz-Diez, Color in Space and Time, Houston 2011, p. 220.

  • Julio Le Parc, Relief Couleur (Série 3, Numéro 8). Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    While Le Parc studied sculpture under Lucio Fontana at Academia Privada de Altamira, it was a chance encounter with Victor Vasarely in Buenos Aires and his eventual collaborations with the Hungarian artist in France, which redirected his aesthetic philosophy and artistic production. Julio Le Parc’s works are rigorous experiments.  Aptly defined by the artist himself, his works “are a series of continuing quests or research inquiries” that rely primarily on the active participation of the viewer.

  • Sandú Darié, Untitled. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    Darié began to chase these “endless combinations” in the mid-1950s with the seminal series Estructuras transformables (transformable structures), to which the present work belongs. Here, Darié steps outside the Arp-like two dimensionality of his reliefs, creating an endlessly variable object by joining the “strips of wood” together and removing the central picture plane entirely. Thus, he creates an object that requires the spectator’s active participation: not only in the viewing, but the creation of the artwork.

  • Eduardo Terrazas, 1.1.9, de la Serie Posibilidades De Una Estructura, Subserie Cosmos. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    “Without losing the tactile and optical ​​characteristics of wool, Eduardo Terrazas achieves in this series of works an expressive and dramatically rhythmic-like quality. The practice of white-on-white sanctified by Kazimir Malevich is enriched by a variety of small, fleeting and an almost audible range of shades. Moreover, by employing precise contrasts and color values, the artist frees his works from the typical chromatic repertoire of [Mexican] Huichol--textile ceremonial crafts--a source of inspiration for Terrazas." -Raquel Tibol, 1972

  • Gerd Leufert, Listonado. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
  • Kazuya Sakai, Atmosphères III/Gyorgy Ligeti. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
  • Fernando de Szyszlo, Recinto. Estimate $35,000–45,000.
    "Szyszlo's world includes whatever can be embraced by the imagination, from nature to the frontiers of fantasy, where the world that appeals to the tactile sense may produce rotund images. A world that is possible within the rich imagination of those who are aware of the limits but who actually do not have any; this is where we find the roots of the entire visual universe that can come into being and that we are free to use." 
    -Mario Vargas Llosa, Fernando de Szyszlo, Bogotá 1991, p. 138

  • Edgar Negret, Máscara. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
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