By John Perry in Auckland, on 09-Aug-2016

The 86 lot auction of Important Paintings and Contemporary Art at Art & Object's Abbey Street Auckland premises on Thursday 4th August broke a number New Zealand auction records.

A large format catalogue accompanied the auction with comprehensive and authoritative essays by the in-house team at A+O and leading scholars in the field

A good crowd braved Auckland's winter weather and along with the increasing number of phone bidders it was a hot night on the auction house floor

The high point of the 86 lot auction of Important Paintings and Contemporary Art at Art & Object's Abbey Street Auckland premises on Thursday 4th August was the sale of Tony Fomison's dark and mysterious Self Portrait No.14. The estimate of $120,000-$160,000 was quickly eclipsed and after a great auction-floor battle, the painting was knocked down to an art consultant in the room for a record price for a work by the artist of $168,000.

Despite the auction getting off to a slow start, Yvonne Todd's small format C-type print of 10 conifer trees entitled Seriousness (Lot 7 ) sold for $12,000 against a pre-sale estimate of .$5,000- $8,000 This photograph graced the cover of the important 2005 publication Contemporary New Zealand Photographers edited by Laura Strongman

Another work to break through the top end of the estimate was Ian Scott's Lattice No. 113 (Lot 9 ) which sold for $13,000. Ian Scott (1945-2013) has had mixed results at auction because of the diverse subject matter and scale of his work, but this sharp work from the popular Lattice series from the 1980's always prove to be winners with the punters and collectors

Andrew Mcleod's large format painting Spring House also proved popular and sold for $21,000 against a pre sale estimate of $14,000- $20,000.

Ralph Hotere was the next artist to sneak through the top end of the estimate with a slightly asymetrical small format Song Cycle (Lot 27 ) from 1970, selling for $31,000, Just above the upper estimate of $30,000.

Next up were two photographs from a private collection and both works exceeded the top end estimate. Fiona Pardington's medium format gold toned gelatin print from an edition of 5 produced in 2004 of the tail feathers of the now extinct Huia bird that was entitled Ake Ake Huia (Lot 34 ) sold for $25,000 against a pre sale estimate of $14,000-$20,000 and Gordon H. Burt's delightful small format studio portrait of world famous aviatrix Jean Batton (Lot 40 ) sold for $2,900

The high point on the night came when Tony Fomison's dark and mysterious Self Portrait No.14 (Lot 57 ) was offered in the sale room.

Painted in Christchurch a couple of years after the artist had returned from a 3 year stint in Europe as he was working his way through the works he had seen and been inspired by. Estimated at $120,000-$160,000, bidding started in the mid $80,000's quickly rising to $100,000 The phones were competing with bidders in the room, and as bidders fell away, new bidders came on stream. At the end of a great auction-floor battle, the painting was knocked down to an art consultant in the room for a record price for a work by the artist of $168,000

I know that if Fomison was aware of the price achieved, he would be turning in his grave out there under Mangere Mountain in South Auckland having been relatively poverty stricken for most of his adult life as an artist.

Nevertheless it was not all plain sailing as a number of key works at the top end of the catalogue were left unsold or sold subject to the vendor's approval.

These included Colin McCahon's Small Brown Hill (Lot 61 ) estimated at $180,000-$260,000 and which was bid to $120,000 on the night, and his Rocks in the Sky Series 1 No 6 (Lot 66 ) which was the headline painting but attracted a bid of only $180,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $260,000 - $320,000.

Final sale total to date is about $1.3 million This includes post-auction sales of works by Shane Cotton, and two large format works by Seraphine Pick, White Noise (Lot 48 ) and Wandering Rose (Lot 49 ), the latter creating a record price at auction for the artist of $60,000.

The market at the top end appears to be cooling somewhat as we are due to soon greet spring despite a rather warmer winter than usual, the secondary market over here tends to do its own thing ''weather or not''.

 

Sale Referenced: Important Paintings & Contemporary Art, Art+Object, Auckland, 04/08/2016

About The Author

John Perry is known locally as a collector / consultant / curator/ educator and artist and is a former director of the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. For the last 20 years has worked as an antique dealer specializing in ''man made and natural curiosities'' from an old art deco cinema on the outskirts of Auckland. Over the last 16 years he has developed a multi million dollar collection of 19th and 20th century artworks for the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust. He recently donated 120 artworks from his collection in various media to the East Southland Art Gallery in Gore. A committed ''art o holic'' he continues to develop collections of New Zealand and International fine art / folk art / ceramics and photography for future usage in a private/public ARTMUSEEUM of NEWSEELAND, not to be confused with Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.

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