Star of the 55 lot auction was Fiona Pardington who currently has a significant body of new work on show in the Sydney Biennale. Her beautiful, Ake Ake Huia (2004) (Lot 31) half way through the auction, realised $29,900, a record price for a photograph at auction in New Zealand.
The record lasted only until the final lot in the sale, her major Quai Branly Suite of Nine Hei Tiki (Lot 55) which sold for a New Zealand record price for a photograph, of $63,250. This important work is one of only two complete sets made by the artist and went to a private collector. The other set was gifted to the people of France by the New Zealand government, and is now in the international collection of the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris.
Other record prices for the artist were achieved for Ans Westra's Untitled (lot 43) $5,865); Yvonne Todd's Goat Sluice (Lot 15) $9,200; Ann Shelton's Frederick B. Butler Collection No. 17. (Lot 22) $6,440); H. R. Holland's dark portrait of Kiri Te Kanawa (Lot 3) for $3,450; and two works by Robin Morrison (Lot 46) $5,750.
Further strong prices were realized for Michael Parekowhai, Marti Friedlander, and Brian Brake’s iconic Indian Girl in Early Monsoon Rain (Lot 51), which sold for $5,175.
The auction reinforced the virtue of small, tightly-focused photography catalogues which help to educate a nascent market, not yet totally convinced of the rarity and collectability of art photographs.
Director of Art Ben Plumbly, remarked that “last night’s auction can only be described as a phenomenal result for a medium which can now no longer be considered the poor cousin of painting and sculpture in this country. The unprecedented results for Fiona Pardington’s photographs in particular, are a testament to her standing not just in the photographic world but in the globalized world of contemporary art.”
With 34 of the 55 lots on offer selling under the hammer, (62% by number) the sale will ensure that specialist photography catalogues continue to remain an annual event for the auction house and point to a growing maturation of a market which has never previously been an easy one for auction houses to nurture.