Pushing past its estimate: Carmen Herrera’s Avila, 1974
Courtesy latinamericanart.com

After a break for the Memorial Day weekend holiday, New York’s Latin American auctions resumed yesterday with Sotheby’s evening sale, and tonight’s sale at Christie’s. For the most part, works by Cuban artists sold comfortably within their pre-sale estimates—and a few did far better.

As might be expected, Wifredo Lam was one of the winners in tonight’s sale at Christie’s. His 1937 oil-on-cardboard Untitled (Abstract), from the collection of the late U.S. entertainer Andy Williams, surged past its presale estimate of $60,000-$80,000 to come in at $171,750. (All prices include buyer’s premium.) Perhaps more surprising was the work that went on the block just before the Lam: Lot 7, a 1985 canvas by Mario Carreño titled Atardecer de Nostalgia. Estimated at $50,000 to $70,000, it turned in a robust $99,750. Lot 83, Avila, Carmen Herrera’s 1974 acrylic on canvas, also pushed past its high estimate of $120,000 to fetch $147,750.

Tomás Sánchez, who set a record at auction in last fall’s sales, saw three of his canvases come well within their presale estimates, including Lot 35, Meditation at Noon, a 2004 canvas that brought in $339,750 against a presale estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. The same was true for Lot 55, Wifredo Lam’s 1945 canvas L’eau solide, which came in at $459,750 against a presale estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.

There were few surprises at last evening’s Sotheby’s sale, where the results were solid without being spectacular. The sale led off with two paintings by Cuban modernists. Lot 1, Mujer con gallo (1941) by Mariano Rodríguez, fetched $269,000, squarely within the presale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. Lot 2, Mujeres en el balcón (c.1945) by Victor Manuel, reached the low end of its estimate at $125,000. Two vintage photos by Ana Mendieta also came within their estimates, as did Lot 133, Orilla, a small canvas by Tomás Sánchez.

Tomorrow’s day sale at Christie’s includes close to three dozen works by Cuban artists, virtually all carrying modest presale estimates. Barring a substantial surprise during that auction, the top lot of the season is unquestionably the 1943 Amelia Peláez canvas Las hermanas, which sold last week at Phillips for $569,000, setting a record at auction for the artist.