Also in New York, Sotheby's Aboriginal Art sale this year is led by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula’s exquisite early painting Water and Bush Tucker Story 1972 (Lot 28 ) from his acclaimed ‘Water Dreaming series’, and claimed by Sotheby's to be one of the finest examples from the series that Geoffrey Bardon believed to be,
Estimated at USD$400,000-600,000, it is certainly the most significant early Papunya board to hit the market for many years. Consigned by an Australian collector who bought the painting at auction in the darkest moments of the early Global Financial Crisis in October 2008 for A$228,000, the painting is likely to set a new record for an early Papunya board at auction. Consigned from a UK collector are two other historic early Papunya paintings in the sale including an early Timmy Payungka painting on a tile from 1971(Lot 26 ), illustrated in Bardon’s book Papunya: A Place Made After the Story and another Old Walter Tjampitjinpa (Lot 27 ) from 1971 with an early ‘consignment 5’ number, both modestly estimated at US$25,000-35,000.
However it is the paintings on canvas that are this years sale’s main attraction, and what appeals the most to international collectors. There are an interesting group of Papunya paintings dating from the 70s through to the early 90s from the Estate of Eve Norton McGlashan, wife of the renowned modernist architect from Melbourne who designed John and Sunday Reed’s Heide, the highlight of which is George Tjungurrayi’s earliest known large scale canvas, Numinya, 1977 (Lot 29 ) dating from 1977, and illustrated in a photograph hanging at the Alice Springs show that same year. Two others are by Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Watukarrinya (Two Kangaroo Dreaming), 1987 (Lot 32 ), both acquired from Gabrielle Pizzi Gallery, and Watukarrinya, 1991 (Lot 38 ) from the artist’s first solo exhibition.
There are many large and carefully selected paintings by the most sought after of desert painters including Makinti Napanangka and Emily Kngwarreye, and a large three metre canvas by Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori Big River at Thundi 2008 (Lot 59 ) estimated at USD$150,000 - 200,000, that was exhibited in the Telstra NASIAA award in 2008, that will be her first major painting to be offered internationally since her well received recent exhibitions at the Foundation Cartier’d galleries in Paris and Milan.
The live sale will commence at 4pm New York time on Tuesday May 23, 10pm in Europe, and will be 6am on Wednesday morning in Sydney, so Australian’s wishing to bid will need to rise and shine early.