Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo's "Women Reaching for the Moon" fetched $1.4 million and was the top selling work in Christie's Latin American art auction in New York, where contemporary Brazilian abstract artists also made a strong showing.
The Tuesday evening sale brought in $14.5 million, with 85 percent of the art works sold, and there was high demand for contemporary and modern artists, said Virgilio Garza, the head of Latin American art at Christie's.
"The evening saw very competitive bidding for artists relatively new to auction," he added.
Records were set for four living artists - Abraham Palatnik and Tomie Ohtake from Brazil, Mateo Manaure of Venezuela and Miguel Angel Rojas from Colombia - as well as for Mexican Rodolfo Nieto, who died in 1985.
As expected, "Women Reaching for the Moon," which depicts two elongated women trying to touch the moon, was the most sought after lot.
"It's a picture of hope and humanity in the period (when) most of the world was reconstructing from war," Garza said in an interview about the 1946 work by Tamayo, who died in 1991.
Another Tamayo painting, the 1978 "Dos Mujeres en Rojos" (Two Women in Reds), with burgundy, cherry, pink and orange colors, sold for $665,000.
Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes' "O Casamento" (The Marriage), a 1995 acrylic on canvas featuring overlapping circles with floral and lace designs, sold for $1 million.
Garza said there was spirited bidding for Palatinik's "Sequencia Visual S-51" (S-51 Visual Sequence), which brought in $785,000, more than seven times its pre-auction low estimate.
Known as a pioneer of kinetic art, Palatnik's work uses light bulbs, reflective lenses and a motor to cast changing patterns of color and light.
The $293,000 sale of the 1997 "Toro" (Bull) was the most ever paid for a work by Nieto. Other record-setting works included Manaure's 1956 painting "Composicion No. 1", which sold for $118,750 and Ohtake's 1979 painting "Untitled," which fetched $81,250.
Rojas' record-setting work was "Sub-Urbano (Diptych) segunda version," or Suburban (Diptych) second version, which went under the hammer for $37,500. Created in 2003, the work uses seeds on rubber and aluminum to depict two tigers facing each other, their paws nearly touching, against a background of red dots.