Estimate: US$2,000,000 - US$3,000,000
Price realised: US$2,629,000
25 Wifredo Lam Présages 1947 oil on canvas 39 1/4 x 39 1/4 in. (99.8 x 99.8 cm) Signed and dated "Wilfredo Lam 1.9.47" lower left. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Eskil Lam.
Provenance Private Collection, Italy Private Collection, Paris Acquired from the above by the present owner Exhibited Havana, Galería Sociedad Nuestro Tiempo, Lam y nuestro tiempo Paris, 1938 - 1951, 1951 Turin, Galleria Civica di Arte Moderna, Le Muse inquietanti, maestri del Surrealismo, 1967 - 1968 Turin, Galleria Gissi, Lam,1978 Rome, Villa Medici, Wifredo Lam ou l'Eloge du Mètissage, 1992 - 1993, then travelled to Milan (Palazzo de la Permanente, 1992 - 1993) Literature M. Leiris, Lam, Milano, 1970, No.77 (illustrated) M.P. Fouchet, Wifredo Lam 1st ed., Barcelona / Paris: Polígrafa / Cercle d'Art, 1976, p. 76, No. 82 (illustrated) "Dialogue entre les peuples de monde", Cultures - UNESCO, No. 33, 1983, frontispiece (illustrated) W. Rubin and J. L. Paudrat, Le Primitivisme dans l'art du XX siecle, Paris, 1987, p.80, No.82, (illustrated) Wifredo Lan ou l'Eloge du Métissage, exh.cat., Villa Medici, Rome, 1992-1993, p.103 (illustrated) L. Lam, Wifredo Lam - Catalogue Raisonné of the Painted Work, Vol. 1 1923 - 1960, 2006, p.400, No. 47.37 (illustrated) Catalogue Essay Wifredo Lam contributed to modernism in very significant ways during his long, prolific career as a painter, printmaker, sculptor, and ceramist. He explored the possibilities of cubism and expanded the inventive parameters of surrealism while negotiating figuration and abstraction with a particularly recognizable iconography and an extraordinary imagination. Throughout the 1940s, working with a vocabulary of images based on Afro-Cuban worldviews, Lam redefined the visual language of single figures, multifigured compositions, landscapes, and still-lifes. His subjects addressed rituals, elements in folktales, and religious beliefs held by many descendants of Yoruba as well as non-Yoruba Cubans. Lam’s artistic and thematic outreach was broad, beginning in his Spanish period and continuing through the years he was repatriated to Havana (1941-1952), living in Paris (1952-1982), and then in Albissola, Italy (1959-1982). He rethought line, color, form, and space on varied supports to communicate the extraordinary “powers” (otherwise known as “life forces”) of the inner worlds —individual and communal, sacred and profane—and their intersections. Lam’s work was introduced to a slowly emerging World War II New York art scene in 1942 by André Breton the Surrealist leader who, like the Cuban artist, had fled France after the Nazi occupation. As a result of Breton’s introductions, Lam’s career began on this side of the Atlantic in the group exhibition First Papers of Surrealism, organized by Breton, installed by Marcel Duchamp and held at the Coordinating Council of French Relief Societies, Inc. (October 14 to November 7, 1942). Immediately following that large-scale exhibition, Lam had his first solo show at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, less than a year and a half after he had returned from France to be repatriated to Cuba. Lam exhibited in New York at the Matisse Gallery throughout the 1940s to the early 1950s during which time he and his work became known to diverse artistic circles in Cuba, the United States, and many countries of the Americas and Europe. In Havana, Lam’s first solo show was organized by Lydia Cabrera at the Lyceum (the Havana Yacht Club) in 1946, some four years after Lam had had several exhibitions at the Pierre Matisse Gallery. The artist enjoyed critical attention from a small group of literary figures such as Alejo Carpentier, the Cuban writer, Aimé Césaire, the Martiniquen poet, Benjamin Peret, the surrealist writer exiled in Mexico, Pierre Mabille the art critic and art-cultural organizer living in Haiti, and Pierre Loeb, Lam’s art dealer exiled in Cuba. By 1947 Lam had painted some of his early iconic masterpieces such as The Jungle (1942-1943), The Eternal Presence (1945), and For the Spanish Refugees / Pour les réfugiés espangnols (1946). His distinctive vocabulary, often drawn from Afro-Cuban symbolism, consisted of little round heads, somet
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