Pedro Coronel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Through his distinct visual language within a semi-abstract composition, Pedro Coronel combines eclectic references of mythological and magical beings in Danza mágica, 1967. Beginning in the mid-1950s, Coronel began using luminous color palettes to embed allegorical references into his paintings. Depicting figures engaging in some sort of dance, the present work explores the artist’s fascination with cyclical themes of life and death found in his mythic influences. Combining these influences with pre-Hispanic imagery, Coronel’s practice represents a whimsical departure from tradition.


    The Breakaway Generation


    Part of the infamous Generación de la Ruptura (The Breakaway Generation), Coronel deliberately broke from the muralist movement that had taken over the Mexican art world in the 1950s. Beginning in the early 1950s, the group, whose members included Francisco Toledo and Leonora Carrington, opposed and subverted the nationalistic views and imagery of the muralism movement in favor of the international influences of Art Informel. Embedded heavily in this new visual vocabulary were themes such as life and death, and past and present, which were often referenced by the artists in the group, especially by Coronel. Danza mágica highlights the cyclical notion of life and death by depicting brightly colored figures dancing around a central globe, presumed to be the Earth. Seeming to exist outside of the earthly realm, the figures seem to hint at the fleeting nature of our being on Earth, an idea which was explored repeatedly in Coronel's and other artists of the Generación de la Ruptura’s oeuvres.


    Distinctly Coronel


    Throughout his painting practice, Coronel often worked directly on the canvas without any prior design or planning of his compositions. Here, the paint was applied thickly, using heavily textured reliefs to create abstracted figures and forms within a range of bright hues. Using vivid lilacs, blues, greens and yellows, the present work reflects Coronel’s spontaneity and freedom of expression. His layered compositions resemble the imagery and techniques employed by his contemporaries, namely Rufino Tamayo, while still remaining distinctly Coronel’s own. Opting to create more imagined worlds rather than familiar scenes, Coronel’s practice remains connected to mystical traditions, reinventing Mexican painting and connecting past and present. Using these references and the frameworks of both the Generación de la Ruptura and the earlier muralist movement, Danza mágica explores the depths  of pure color, taking purples, yellows and greens to their limits and making them the subjects of the work, rather than merely relegating them to the background. This innovative use of color is what cements Coronel as a leader among Mexican artists during this time.


    Rufino Tamayo, Children’s Games, 1959, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    • Provenance

      The Artist
      Elena Cusi Wortham, Houston
      Thence by descent to the present owners

    • Literature

      Justino Fernández, Pedro Coronel: Pintor e Escultor, Mexico City, 1971, no. 83, p. 28 (illustrated, n.p., dated 1968)
      María Luisa Sabau García, ed., México en el mundo de las colecciones de arte, vol. 1, Mexico, 1994, p. 101 (illustrated)


Danza mágica

signed, titled, inscribed and dated "Pedro Coronel. Paris. 67. "DANZA MÁGICA"" on the reverse
oil on canvas
39 5/16 x 39 5/16 in. (99.9 x 99.9 cm)
Painted in 1967.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $120,650

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan

Specialist, Head of Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023