Monrovia, CA – The first of John Moran Auctioneers’ bi-annual Made in Mexico auctions will entice collectors as we set the tone and begin the year with exciting offerings in all genres. Featuring all things from across the border, from fine art to pottery and decorative metalware, textiles, and jewelry, the selection is sure to whet the appetite of Mexican art enthusiasts everywhere. With more than 200 lots of mostly mid-20th Century Mexican jewelry from all the preeminent designers, silver devotees will enjoy finding something distinctive to wear and add to their collection. Additionally, the sale will present a selection of Latin and Central American art, including Guatemalan, Peruvian, and Panamanian silver, pottery, and woodwork.
While many of the works in this auction are influenced by Spanish culture in Mexico, some of the highlighted works are by makers who have been influenced and inspired by indigenous and prehistoric traditional designs and methods, shifting away from European aesthetics in favor of the art of the pre-conquest indigenous traditions and of the Mexican pueblos, in a search for a truly Mexican aesthetic.
This is certainly evident in the selection of pottery, such as the polychrome ceramics of Jalisco including Tlaquepaque pottery, featuring depictions of Mexican life from the 19th Century, as well as Tonalá pottery, which exhibits a mix of indigenous traditions such as bruñido, or burnishing, with high quality clay slips introduced from the Spanish during the colonial period. While the striking designs and techniques found in Tonalá pottery are often a mix of influences, including Indigenous, Asian and European, a Mata Ortiz pottery jar by Juan Quezada epitomizes the connection to the pre-Hispanic style traditions of Mexico.
With an estimate of $2,000-3,000, this beautiful pot is one of several items from Mata Ortiz offered in this sale, with intricate designs inspired by early Mexican Pueblo pottery. The Pueblo pottery styles of the Casa Grandes, Hohokam, Mogollon and Anasazi cultures all rose together, and each had a long history of pottery production and evolution dating back more than 1500 years. Mata Ortiz pottery is a more recent Northern Mexico pueblo pottery inspired by pre-historic architectural digs at Casas Grandes, or present-day Mata Ortiz. The iconography of these early pottery shards would influence the entire re-creation of Mata Ortiz pottery in the mid-20th Century. Not only the designs on the shards, but the white clay found on Juan Quezada Celado’s property would become the inspiration for an entirely new emergence of pottery from Northern Mexico. Inspiration quickly evolved and developed into a thriving community of artists. A true Renaissance man, who left school in the third grade, Juan Quezada is now known as the “Maestro.” His abilities with clay have allowed him to not only mentor his family and community but influence an entire generation of ceramicists that have understudied him. Juan produces pottery in the traditional way, by hand, using traditional pigments, and in earthen pits with materials found on his land. “Before Juan can make a pot, he rides his horse into the mountains search of good clay; he digs it and packs it out in gunny sacks. He buys nothing; everything comes from the earth. He even paints with brushes made with the hair of his children.” It is estimated that his process takes him about 40 hours of work to produce one pot. His pottery is complex in its creation and in its finished decorations.
“One of the main attractions of every Made in Mexico auction at Moran’s is the amazing array of stunning, primarily silver, jewelry by a premier selection of Mexican artists”
One of the main attractions of every Made in Mexico auction at Moran’s is the amazing array of stunning, primarily silver, jewelry by a premier selection of Mexican artists, including Antonio Pineda, William Spratling, Hector Aguilar, Margot de Taxco, and many others familiar to lovers of Mexican silver. A striking branch coral and silver Matl necklace by Mathilde Poulat also reflects influences of early Mexican design aesthetics. The name Matl, refers to ‘Atl’ which is “water” in Nahuatl or Aztec. Poulat was inspired by indigenous Mesoamerican Mixtec gold jewelry found in the 1930s at Monte Albán in Oaxaca, and successfully incorporated the artistic languages of the Mixtec into jewelry and silver figures with imagination, drama, and a completely personal style. William Spratling admired Poulat and considered her work both intensely Mexican and intensely her own, comparing “whimsical” motifs in her work such as doves, flowers, and tiny bells to folk art designs of Uruapan lacquerware. The highly decorated silver elements of the necklace, and of other Matl pieces, feature elaborate, often symbolic designs in applied wire, complex embossing and repoussé. A lively use of color is realized with bits of coral, turquoise and amethyst. The abundance of branch coral of this necklace highlights the smaller set coral of the decorative silver plaques, surely an irresistible combination, offered at an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
As well as stunning jewelry, the auction also features a multitude of gleaming mixed metal serving ware in all shapes and styles, perfect for presenting elegant feasts at outdoor gatherings! There is brassware by makers such as Los Castillo, Salvador Terán, and Victoria, with highly decorative mosaic and incised designs including fish, jaguars, and more. This elegant silver coffee and tea set with jaguar finials by William Spratling will do nicely for serving after the feast, with an estimate of $1,000-$2,000. The jaguar motif was used by Spratling in his First and Third Design periods not only for serving ware and various
household items, but of course, for jewelry. Spratling apparently referred to the motifs as “tigres” in his wholesale catalogs, but collectors have continued to refer to them as jaguars.
As antique and vintage Mexican silver by Taxco’s mid-century designers continues to grow in popularity, the work of Antonio Pineda remains in a class of its own. Moran’s is excited to bring a large selection of highly desired Antonio Pineda styles and combinations to the floor in this auction.
Our highlighted works bring into focus some intriguing details of Pineda’s working practices and design characteristics. Pineda is said to be notable for the use of more semiprecious stones than any of the other Taxco School silver artists, or “Taxquenos.” In the early 1940s, Pineda began incorporating unusual stones such as Mexican jade, obsidian, moonstones, tiger’s eye, onyx and amethysts into his designs in unusual adept ways. Creative and practical solutions were required to overcome the challenges of using these stones in the high temperature conditions required when working with metal. In some designs, the stones appear to be floating, so that only a minimum of metal touches the stones, as in this dramatic overlapping zig-zag shaped silver and obsidian necklace, estimated at $2,000-$3000. Another example shows stones set close together in rows to emphasize the structural lines of a design, as in this modernist silver and amethyst concave cuff bracelet, where the line of cabochon amethysts appear to float above the surface, an effect that would look amazing on a graceful arm, and offered at an estimated $2,000-$3,000. Pineda also manipulated and formed silver into all manner of shapes and designs: twisting, knotting, folding, and formed into wire with garnished tips of jeweled stone teardrops, a technique nicely illustrated in a few of the Pineda brooches offered in this auction, but also in our last Pineda highlight, a curved silver link necklace with set amethyst drops, with an estimate of $800-$1,200. The two featured necklaces, both light and easy to wear, also display the use of cleverly concealed clasps and closures, which, along with the use of articulated metal links, allowing effortless movement with the body, enhancing the artwork’s dynamic visual quality. Who can resist such flattering, magical works of art?!
This auction will of course offer exciting examples of fine art as well as jewelry, with a variety of works including paintings, drawings, lithographs and more, by artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Carlos Merida, Jorge Leguizamo, Ed Gilliam, Roberto Gil de Monte and Francisco Zúñiga. Sculpture offerings include two works by Felipe Castañeda, a seated woman in bronze from 1968, and Los Amantes, 1971 a large onyx sculpture of beautifully smooth and sensuous embracing figures. Felipe Castañeda was born in 1933 in Michoacán, Mexico. While working in the early 1960s at National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, he became an assistant to artist Francisco Zúñiga. By 1966, Castañeda had developed his skills in molding plaster and clay for sculptures and moved on to create sculptures in marble, onyx and bronze, concentrating on the female form. A strong influence of Pre-Columbian artifacts is evident in his traditional approach to representing the human form. Castañeda credits his early training with Zuñiga for the sculptor he is today.
Also born in Michoacán, artist Jorge Marín is considered one of the greatest exponents of figurative contemporary art in Mexico. An objective of his work is to “provoke deep reflection
in the viewer through the sensuality and drama that the human body can generate.” In contrast to the rounded smooth amorphous forms of Castañeda, Marín’s nearly 34” high Superficie de Argon II of 1997 is presented in a classical figurative style, depicting an angel in a blue mantle with a headdress topped with a bird, with masked cherubs and a monkey, standing on a sphere. Estimated at $5,000-$7,000, this dramatic baroque style sculpture with allegorical forms and fantastic beings is typical of Marín’s work where it is common to find life-like winged figures, beings bent over their own weight and carnival characters with cone hats or faces covered by bird masks. Throughout his career, Marín’s artistic work has involved different disciplines and materials, such as oxidized bronze and mixed metals, and in scales from miniature to monumental. He gained critical attention for his installation work, Wings of Mexico when he installed disembodied oversize bronze wings throughout Mexico City, Dallas, and Denver, and other cities, to encourage greater collaboration and respect between the USA and Mexico. “His style has a strong foundation in the integration of baroque dramatic art with a powerful sensuality and a subtle sense of the perverse.”
Winter at John Moran Auctioneers will present a selection of sales to fit every interest, ranging from modern and contemporary fine art, Mid-Century Modern design, Arts & Crafts furniture, decorative home furnishings, and an outstanding private collection of Native Californian basketry.
Winter Modern & Contemporary: Tuesday, March 1st | 12:00 pm PST
The James M. Cole Collection – American Indian Tuesday March 15th| 12:00 pm PST
ReDesigned: Tuesday, March 22nd | 12:00 pm PST
California Living: Tuesday, April 5th | 12:00 pm PST
For upcoming highlights, online catalogues, and more information on these sales, visit Moran’s website: www.johnmoran.com. Bidding is now available online via Moran’s new mobile app, Moran Mobile, available on both iOS and Android operating systems. Live bidding on a desktop is available through our website; bidding is also supported by telephone or absentee.
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