Tomás Sánchez, Buscador del paisajes, 2005
Courtesy redcultura.com

As a participant in our 2013 Cuban Art Roundtable, Marysol Nieves, vice president and specialist in Latin American art at Christie’s, responded to questions put to all members of the panel. But we couldn’t resist the opportunity to query her on a few more specific topics.

Let’s talk for a moment about last November’s auction sales. Tomás Sánchez did quite well, especially with his painting Buscador del paisajes. Which other Cuban artists did well in the November auctions? Would you say this is consistent with past sales results?

Yes, Tomás Sánchez’s Buscador de paisajes set a new world auction record, selling for $626,500, which was quite extraordinary. Likewise, a relative “newcomer” to the auction market, the brilliant Carmen Herrera’s geometric construction Amarillo from 1971 also established a new world auction record, selling for $170,500. That’s pretty amazing, given that the first time her work was sold at auction was 2006, and prior to that her work was virtually unknown.

Would you say the collector base for Cuban art is expanding? If so, how would you describe the new collectors? Where are they coming from?

Marysol Nieves, vice president and Latin American art expert, Christie’s
Courtesy uprising-art.com

I think again that’s a very broad category, as it really depends on the specific artist and their trajectory in the international art market. Artists like Lam and Agustín Cárdenas are sought after by American, Caribbean, South American, and European collectors. That’s also true of artists like Tomás Sánchez and certainly Carmen Herrera, whose career in a relatively brief span of time has skyrocketed. For many of the younger contemporary artists (Kcho, Los Carpinteros, Alex Arrechea, Carlos Garaicoa, Tania Bruguera, etc.), their careers have developed in a very global context, so the collector base for their work is quite international.

Aside from Sánchez, do you see other contemporary Cuban artists gaining market momentum? Are they any that you’re keeping an eye on?

Certainly Carmen Herrera is an important artist to continue to watch. I am also keeping my eye on artists like Agustín Fernández and Zilia Sánchez, neither of whom has received the level of recognition their work merits.

Christie’s next sale of Latin American Art will be held on May 29 and 30, and will include works by many of the artists mentioned here.