Supplied, 5 November 2023

Two exceptional compositions by Howard Arkley – Shadow Factories 1991 (Lot 12 ) and Sampler: Formal 1998 (Lot 25 ) make their auction debut, together with two highly significant works by Sidney Nolan – In Town 1948 (Lot 9 ) and Desert Bird 1948 (Lot 14 ) – offered from the descendants of the original owners, are among the highlights of Smith & Singer’s forthcoming sale of Important Australian Art to be held in Sydney on Tuesday, 21 November 2023.


This carefully curated sale presents a selection of extraordinary moments in Australian art history, along with ground-breaking paintings, sculptures and works on paper by the most influential artistic innovators of historical, modern, and contemporary Australian Art.   Among the highlights of the sale is Howard Arkley’s major composition, Shadow Factories 1991 (Lot 12 ), which carries an estimate of $800,000 - 1,000,000.

Howard Arkley’s Shadow Factories 1991 (Lot 12 ), a work of complexity and exuberance, bursts with a disruptive profusion of colours, shapes, patterns, and textures, is being offered for the first time for public sale.   Shadow Factories remains a composition of enduring appeal that represents a defining moment within the history and development of twentieth century Australian art.

Sampler: Formal 1998 (Lot 25 ) featured in Arkley’s solo exhibition at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne in 1998.  This show, which represented a logical exploration and continuation of his interior scenes of suburbia cemented the artist’s preeminent position as Australia’s foremost commentator of the Australian urban/suburban experience.  Sampler: Formal was acquired by the present owner from Tolarno Galleries in 1999 and is presented for public auction for the first time.

 Sidney Nolan’s In Town 1948, (Lot 9 ) has since its creation formed part of the remarkable and esteemed personal collections of Cynthia Nolan and Jinx Nolan.  Desert Bird 1948 (Lot 14 ) occupies a singular position within Sidney Nolan’s oeuvre.  The painting was purchased by the family of the present owner in early 1949 and is reported to be the first painting the artist sold to an independent collector. 

Rosalie Gascoigne’s magnificent Grasslands 1987 (Lot 22 ), one of the artist’s finest compositions ever offered for auction, along with John Olsen’s rich and exciting The Bath 1998 (Lot 23 ) from the eminent collection of Cate Blanchett AC and Andrew Upton are included in the sale.

The sale’s catalogue cover lot, Girl with Flowers (1958) (Lot 17 ), remains a masterpiece from Charles Blackman’s ‘Girls and Flowers’ or ‘Faces and Flowers’ series and was retained by Charles and Barbara Blackman for their personal collection.  Commanding in its striking composition and dramatic scale, Girl with Flowers is simultaneously majestic, tender, and mysterious, and possesses all the sensitivity and poetry of the artist’s finest creations.  Offered for auction for the first time, Girl with Flowers, created during one of the most desirable periods in Blackman’s career, and a major statement from the artist’s highly celebrated and remarkable oeuvre.

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