Christies (New York) offered six of Portocarrera paintings in their May, 2017, sale. Five of the six were sold. The lowest sale was $22,500.00; the highest was a painting titled "Brujo" for $150,000.00. To my eye, this wonderful painting that we offer is very much like "Brujo." That was a larger painting than this but certainly underscores the value of his work. His High Auction Price over $295,000.00.
Rene Portocarrero was a Cuban artist born in the neighborhood of El Cerro, Havana, in 1912, and died in Havana on April 27, 1985. He is noted for highly colorful, abstract paintings and also was a sculptor, ceramicist, scenic designer and book illustrator, publishing his own Las Máscaras (The Masks) in 1935 and El Sueño (The Dream) in 1939.
As a muralist, he produced public artworks for the Havana Prison, a church in Bauta, Cuba, the Cuban National Hospital, the Cuban National Theatre and the Hotel Tryp Habana Libre.
He started painting from a young age, and at 14, enrolled in San Alejandro Academy, but left early enough, having a strong temperament and unable to adapt to this apprenticeship. As a result, he is considered self-taught.
His work was first exhibited in the Salon de Bellas Artes in Havana, and in 1934, he exhibited at the Havana Lyceum. The success of this event launched his career, which included in 1937 a collaboration with Mariano Rodriguez.
In 1939, he became a professor of Paintings and Sculptures. He travelled and painted in Haiti, Europe and the United States, where in 1945, he had an exhibition in the Julian Levy Gallery, in New York. In 1950 he worked with Wifredo Lam, Mariano, Martinez Pedro and Amelia Palaez in the village of Santiago de las Vegas. In 1961 he had meetings with Fidel Castro in the Jose Marti National Library where they discussed culture.
Rene received lessons in painting from Nicolás Guillén Landrián. In 1977 he worked for the Japan Women's Association. In 1979 he worked for UNESCO and AIAP. He knew Peggy Guggenheim.
In the 1980s he was the teacher of Victor Miquel Moreno Piñeiro (Victor Moreno), cousin of Servando Cabrera Moreno.
His works are among the permanent collections of the Museums of Modern Arts of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, New York, San Francisco; National Gallery in Canada; Bellas Artes, Caracas; Milwaukee Art Center; Union Panamericana, Washington; Modern Arts of Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Art Museum, Indianapolis; Bellas Artes, Montevideo; Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; Instituto de Arte Contemporaneo, Lima, Peru; Museo Nacional, Havana.
In his lifetime, he won 'best collection' at the seventh São Paulo Art Biennial (1963), was honoured by the governments of Bulgaria and Poland, and given a seat on UNESCO's International Association of Fine Art. In 1981 he received the 'Felix Varela' prize from Cuba, and in 1982 he received the 'Aztec Eagle', Mexico's highest award.
Artist: Rene Portocarrero.
Medium: Gouache on paper.
Size: 12 1/2 by 10 inches.
Signed and Dated: Lower Right Corner "Portocarrero 63"
Condition: Warping from the paint and ink.
Provenance: Purchased through Malcolm Mason (owner of Manor Gallery). It is from the collection of Cuban musician Odilio Luis Urfe (1921 - 1988). The seller's family was closely associated to the arts and cultural community. This piece was contained in a grouping of art gifted from Urfe to the seller's father.
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