Diego Rivera purchase sets world record price for Latin American art

Diego Rivera purchase sets world record price for Latin American art

PanARMENIAN.Net - Baile en Tehuantepec (1928) is the most important work by Diego Rivera in a private collection outside of Mexico and one of the largest canvases that the great Mexican muralist painted during his lifetime. It has been out of display in the Americas for over thirty years.

It was first exhibited in the United States in 1930 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1931, became part of the famous Diego Rivera retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art New York (MoMA). In 1950, it was displayed at the XXV Venice Biennale as part of Mexico’s first official appearance, which included works by José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

It will be exhibited at the Philadelphia Art Museum this October; at ARCO Madrid in February 2017 and will be on view at the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA) the following March, Art Daily said.

It has been 130 years since the birth of Diego Rivera (1886-1957), the most important Mexican artist of the twentieth century that for the first time sets the highest price in the history of Latin American art. The record is set with his masterpiece Baile en Tehuantepec (1928) that measures 79 x 64 ½ in. (200.7 x 163.8 cm) and is one of the largest canvases he painted during his lifetime.

Eduardo F. Costantini, founder and president of MALBA, purchased the piece for $15,750,000 dollars. The work doubled the previous record of Latin American art set for Frida Kahlo’s Dos desnudos en el bosque (1929), which sold at auction for $8,005,000 on 12 May 2016.

Baile en Tehuantepec has belonged to the same private collection in New York since 1995 and has been out of public display since. Between 1962 and 1995, the work was in the IBM Gallery of Science and Art. It was auctioned at Sotheby's in May 1995, along with Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait Autorretrato con chango y loro (1942), also purchased by Eduardo Costantini in the same auction and is today one of the most important works of the MALBA collection.

According to Eduardo Costantini, “For over twenty years I dreamt of acquiring this painting by Diego Rivera, for me the most important artist in Latin American art history. At the 1995 auction, because of a budgetary issue, I couldn’t acquire the two paintings. I had to wait twenty years to acquire this metahistorical work, a masterpiece of modern paintings."

For August Uribe, Deputy Chairman, Americas at Phillips, Baile en Tehuantepec is undoubtedly the most important work of Diego Rivera in a private collection outside of Mexico. "Painted in 1928, this modern masterpiece is the embodiment of Rivera’s commitment to the muralists’ goals of celebrating Mexico’s indigenous culture.”

Rivera’s Baile en Tehuantepec captures the zandunga folk dance. Rivera framed the six dancers under a lush banana tree. The rich textures and vibrant colors of the traditional costumes worn by the Tehuantepec Indians fascinated Rivera. In this work, women wear traditional embroidered dresses and huipiles and braid their hair with brightly colored ribbons. The men wear white cotton shirts and trousers topped off with velvet hats typical of the period. The liveliness of the festival is also underscored by the artist’s use of the brightly colored paper decorations in the setting.

The detailed composition has been reduced to very keen juxtapositions of colors, balanced with strong compositional forms. The austere faces of the dancers are rendered with great similarity to the great stone masks of pre-conquest Oaxaca and Guerrero. Baile en Tehuantepec represents Diego Rivera's tribute to the people of the Tehuantepec region, but also to the customs and traditions of the people and nation whose history dates back more than three thousand years.

The large-scale canvas was first exhibited in 1930 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, show that traveled ten museums in the United States. In December 1931, was displayed at the famous Diego Rivera’s retrospective at MoMA, Museum of Modern Art New York.

In 1950, it was displayed at the XXV Venice Biennale as part of the Mexico’s first official appearance, which included works by José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who received the Museo de Arte Moderno de San Pablo Award. In 1983, Baile en Tehuantepec made its last public appearance in the exhibition Homenaje a Diego Rivera at the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City.

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