Diego Rivera - Latin America New York Monday, November 24, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Berthold Mahn, Paris
    Christie's, New York, Important Latin American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, May 18, 1992, lot 60
    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, New York, Latin American Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture and Prints, Part I, November 15, 1994, lot 22
    Collection of Pedro Vallenila Echevarría, Caracas
    CDS Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, Obras cubistas y collages, February 1966
    Caracas, Fundación Eugenio Mendoza, August 1968
    Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, Obras cubistas y collages II, February 1970
    Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux Arts, Les Cubistes, 4 May - 10 November, 1973, then travelled to Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne (4 May - 10 November, 1973), Rome, Galleria Nazionale D'Arte Moderna (6 December 1973 - 18 January 1974)
    Caracas, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Inaugural de Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, February 1974
    Austin, The University of Texas at Austin, Loan Collections from Latin America, February - March 1976

  • Literature

    L. Cortés Gutiérrez, Diego Rivera: Catálogo general de obra de caballete, Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1989, No. 169, p. 30 (illustrated)

    This painting is part of the National Heritage of Mexico and cannot be removed from that country. Accordingly, it is offered for sale in New York from the catalogue and will not be available in New York. Delivery of the painting will be made in Mexico in compliance with local requirements. Prospective buyers may contact Phillips representatives for an appointment to view the work in Mexico City.

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I’ve never believed in God, but I believe in Picasso.” Diego Rivera

    Diego Rivera is arguably the most important Mexican modernist painter of his time. Rivera’s artistic sensibilities and pictorial innovations — forged in the creative sparks that emanated from the anvil of Cubism in Europe at the turn of the 20th century — constitute one of the main factors that would revolutionize art in Mexico and instigate the Mexican Mural Movement.

    Rivera started drawing at the tender age of three and his parents, immediately recognizing his talent, supported him wholeheartedly. By his tenth birthday Rivera had enrolled in the Academy of San Carlos and become a pupil of two seminal figures in the history of Mexican art; José María Velasco and Santiago Rebull. In 1907, the Mexican government and Dr. Atl — an established Mexican artist and a pioneer in the development of monumental public art — sponsored his studies in Spain under Eduardo Chicharro. He then spent the next 14 years in Europe, painting prolifically, and rining the more technical aspects of a wide variety of styles. in Paris, he met and befriended a series of Cubist and Fauvist painters, such as Picasso, Derain, Braque, Gris and Modigliani. During this pivotal period in his career from 1913 to 1917, Rivera painted in a Cubist style. It was this European education and his introduction to the Parisian intelligentsia, coupled with his solid artistic education in Mexico that helped him develop his personal and distinctive pictorial style.

    Rivera’s most significant influence during this time was Orphic Cubism. In this, more analytical initial phase of Cubism, the artist transforms the object by deconstructing and reassembling it to depict the subject from a multitude of viewpoints, in an abstracted form; thus representing it in a wider context. By concentrating on the compositional strategy, the artist was able to further transform the object to suggest angular and curvilinear surfaces, and by regulating dark and light tones, which were traditionally monochromatic. Yet it is precisely through color that Rivera distinguished himself from the more austere Cubist palette and pioneers of the movement, such as Picasso and Braque, who focused on pure abstraction. Rivera’s colors, on the other hand, can be read as Mexican, finding their sources in his home country’s vibrant markets and brightly colored sarapes. The bold colors he used in his Cubist paintings laid the foundation for the rich and harmonious palette for which he is now well known.

    Although at first glance Cubism seems to disappear from Rivera’s later work, the fact remains that Cubism left a resounding impact on the artist and continued influence his artistic production long after he returned to Mexico. Rivera believed that “Cubism was the most important achievement in the arts since the Renaissance”. More importantly, the rigor with which he explored this technique provided him the discipline for pictorial construction. The effects were unequivocal and are reflected throughout his oeuvre. Although Rivera mainly painted portraits in his Cubist period, he did a few landscapes and still lifes, such as Zapatista Landscape —The Guerrilla, 1915 and the present lot, Naturaleza muerta (Composición con alcachofas y limones), 1916. These are not only great examples of Cubism, but also prefigure the pictorial elements that made Rivera an established artist.

    The present lot incorporates the different stylistic elements for which he became famous; a blend of “avant-garde practices, Pre-Hispanic sources, popular art and traditional academic paintings.” Conceived in the avant-garde Cubist style, this painting is imbued with Rivera’s signature brightly colored palette and the experimental textures from his Cubist period. The work is signed in blocky, stenciled initials, “DMR,” as Rivera was known to do during these transitional years and further evinces his interest in geometric structure. Even though Rivera’s murals, as well as all of his post-European production, would later depict a style of Realism, his figural style was suffused with geometric shapes, and peculiar perspectives, typical to Cubism. Ultimately, Rivera utilized Cubist strategies to consolidate his own, very complex brand of Realism that
    placed him at the forefront of International Modernism.

  • Artist Biography

    Diego Rivera

    Mexican • 1886 - 1957

    Diego Rivera began drawing at the age of three, and by ten he was enrolled at the San Carlos Academy in Mexico City. In 1907, he traveled to Europe on a scholarship to continue his artistic studies. Whilst in Paris, Rivera embraced the advent of Cubism, and later Post-Impressionism, taking inspiration from such European artists as Picasso and Cézanne.

    In 1921, Rivera returned to Mexico and became involved in the government-sponsored Mexican mural program. He became best-known for his frescoes painted in a distinctive style characterized by bold colors and ample, Renaissance-inspired figures. Rivera was an atheist and joined the Mexican Communist party in 1922. He was married five times, including twice to Frida Kahlo, with whom he had a famously volatile relationship.

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Naturaleza muerta (Composición con alcachofas y limones)

oil on canvas
10 5/8 x 15 in. (27 x 38.1 cm.)
Initialed "DMR" lower left. This work has been authenticated by Mr. Luis Martín Lozano.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $725,000

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Director of Latin American Art
New York
+1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York Auction 24 November 2014 2pm