Artists such as Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Sergio Camargo, Jesús Rafael Soto, Nelson Leirner, Guillermo Kuitca, Gabriel Orozco, Mira Schendel and Francis Alÿs, were the stars of the exhibition. As a novelty, the auction house included its first independent section of Contemporary Cuban Art, represented by Carlos Garaicoa, Manuel Mendive, René Peña, Belkis Ayon and Tania Bruguera, among others.
“Cuba is going through an active metamorphosis at the moment, and the changes in government policy and international outlook have absolutely affected the arts. Cuba is an active participant in the global cultural dialogue—a great example of this is that they’ve participated in the last two Venice Biennales. It’s time to highlight the work of these accomplished artists who, in many cases, have not had a chance to be listened to on the international stage. It’s also great that there’s an increasing amount of interest in Cuba’s artistic contributions, not only on its political and social issues. It’s always been an incubator for innovative thought, and it’s important to emphasize that to the collecting public,” said González.
The crown jewel of the auction was Lygia Clark’s Bicho invertebrado (1960), which brought in $1,865.000. Clark, a Brazilian artist and leader of the Neo-Concrete movement, makes three-dimensional works, which set up an open dialogue with the viewer. Her Bicho invertebrado (Invertebrate Bug) is an example of her invitation to the viewers to become artists as they are allowed to manipulate the spine of the “bug” with their own hands. Modulated Surface No. 2 (1957-1982) by the same artist was sold for $461,000.
Another work included in the auction, Hélio Oiticica’s Metaschema 153, consisting in partially dislocated geometric figures, was sold for $260,000. Untitled (Relief No. 347) by Sergio Camargo sold for $785,000 while his work, Untitled (1985), went for $173,000.
Phillips has certainly found its niche in the auction business and clear knowledge of contemporary culture. With a large team of specialists around the world, the firm curated this selection, which arrived in New York with the aroma of autumn and got the warmest welcome by collectors and viewers. ■