Arturo Pacheco Altamirano

oil on masonite, 1966 By Arturo Pacheco Altamirano (Chile, 1903-1978) Arturo Pacheco Altamirano was one of the most recognized Chilean artists of the 20th century. His paintings of ports and marinas illustrated the universal appeal of life in coastal environments. Early in his career, Altamirano had exhibitions in Chile, Argentina, Peru, and the United States (Washington, D.C., and New York). He made the leap to Europe in 1952 when he was appointed cultural attaché at the Chilean Embassy in Paris. While in France, he met other artists and was introduced to the European avant garde scene. What he saw – everything from Impressionism to Cubism and Surrealism – was reflected in his later work.

Karel Appel

1962, oil on canvas, 45” X 35” It looks like scribble scrabble, I know. And to be honest, it’s not a favorite of mine. But it’s been a good conversation piece (What is that?!) and a good investment, doubling in value since I bought it years ago. The artist is Karel Appel, a Dutch painter and sculptor who cofounded a “school” of northern European expressionists called COBRA. (An acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam) Appel (you can pronounce it like apple in English since it means apple in Dutch) attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam from 1940 to 1943, moved to Paris in 1950 and then to New York City in the 1960s and then lived in …

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Recommended Reading

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World By the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu 2016, 321 pages 20 thoughts from The Book of Joy: The purpose of life must be to find happiness (joy) because every human being seeks that. The purpose of life must be to find happiness (joy) because every human being seeks that. Joy is somehow bigger than pleasure or fun or even happiness. Why worry about problems? If they are solvable, there is no need to worry. Get to work on solving them. If they are not solvable, why worry? An old Tibetan saying: Wherever you have friends is your country. Wherever people love you is your home. Nothing beautiful in the end …

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Carlos Merida

Of all the Central American masters, I think Guatemalan artist Carlos Merida (1891-1985) is the quintessential Modernist. He traveled to the US and Europe early in his career and met with many great artists. He also worked with the Mexican muralists. And he was probably the first Central American artist to integrate the lessons of Modernism and indigenous themes in his paintings. In this drawing, you see his most recognizable images: geometric abstraction with a slight figuration. More importantly, you see the textiles and the colors of his country. This small, colored pencil, 8″ x 6″ on vellum, Cuatro personajes, is valued at $8,000. It was done in 1970. Recently an earlier work, a 1945 painting, sold for $150,000. Merida’s paintings from the 1970s typically sell for $85,000 to $100,000.

Sofia Bassi

Not as well known as many of the Mexican women Surrealists, Sofia Bassi (1913-1998) has an interesting story. She spent five years in prison for the murder of her daughter’s husband, which was, supposedly, actually committed by the daughter. She continued to paint during her incarceration with the help of many important Mexican artists, including Jose Luis Cuevas and Rafael Coronel. She is also known for her collaborative work with the CoBrA artist Asger Jorn. This painting incorporates the visual “egg” she used frequently to symbolize rebirth and/or fertility. El Hombre Leyenda (Man of legend), 1991, is oil on masonite. The egg of the eye is repeated in the sky.  A closer look reveals two angelic clouds floating there, too. The current value is $15,000.  A similar larger work recently …

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Shotgun Hospitality

Frederic Remington   1861-1909

Many of Remington’s best-known paintings depict scenes of action: hunting, fighting, warfare. The subject matter of Shotgun Hospitality is more subdued. We have three Indians standing around a seated cowboy who sits smoking in front of a campfire. They all seem relaxed, as if the Indians have stopped by for a visit. What I like about this painting is the arrangement, the circle around the campfire, the way the artist depicts the light emanating from the fire, the red of one Indian’s robe, the green on the wagon, and the dusky forest in the background against a beautiful starlit sky.

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ROBERTO MONTENEGRO
 1885 – 1968

THE MINOTAUR IN HIS LABYRINTH Montenegro was a muralist, a painter and a graphic artist. He referred to himself as a “subrealist.”  Many of his early paintings had elements of fantasy, but his later works were entirely surrealistic, often with literary references. In this 1967 oil painting on canvas, El Minotauro en su Laberinto, the head of a red bull rests in the window of a theatrical setting made up of sturdy walls. The blood moon (symbolic of change) shines full with an illuminating halo around it. A red cape and sword lie on the blood-red ground. A labyrinth icon is displayed on one wall.     

Francisco Zúñiga

Francisco Zúñiga is one of the most well known Latin American artists.  He creates larger than life size bronze sculptures of indigenous women walking, talking, working and wondering.  He was born in Costa Rica but moved to Mexico when he was in his 20s.  He also creates smaller sculptures in stone, bronze, marble and wood. The prices of his works range from more than a hundred thousand dollars to $15,000 to $35,000 for bronzes (3 to 5 editions) to as little as $10,000 to $15,000 for works such as this one — a small ( 6”x6”x4”) but unique terra cotta beauty sculpted in 1951 that is priced at $15,000.

Denis Nuñez

Denis Nuñez is one of the my favorite of the contemporary artists in Managua, Nicaragua.  Sometimes he paints the natural world with birds or bugs emerging from bright and broken backgrounds.  But more often he paints humanity’s vices and frailties but with an undeniable love of the subject. This work is from the early 1990s when his palette was predominately earth tones and his figures were usually posed and outlined in black. A winner of numerous awards and collected by many Central American museums and connoisseurs, he is lately getting much deserved international recognition. The price range for his work ranges from as little as $750 for a small gauche to more than $20,000 for larger oil paintings of this …

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