The value of art sold at auction in Australia took another slide last year, writes our special correspondent. But the slide was less pronounced as the year went on. Lacking anything like the previous year's Picasso "muse," it was a little less tragic than the final figures suggest.
The combined Deutscher/Lawson Menzies Sale made $4,935,775 (hammer) against its presale low estimate total of $6.384 million, with 197 from 252 lots snared by clients, providing Menzies with a solid clearance rate of 78% by lot and 77% by value. Presumably filled with the confidence the Government keeps spouting, high end collectors cleared all but one of the sale’s twelve top lots over $100,000.
Fred Williams holds the mantle for Deutscher and Hackett with this year’s top sale price, which bodes well for the top lot of the Menzies Brands 16 December Fine Art auction, Summer Snow at Perisher (Lot 33), an unusually soft and snowy landscape by the artist, estimated at $680,000–840,000. Should snow at Christmas fail to excite Antipodeans, Whiteley’s rather brown picture of Lavender Bay in the heat of summer, Westerly with Daisies (Lot 32) is positioned to vie for the sale’s top lot with expectations of $600,000-800,000.
Following a year of seismic shocks to the secondary art market, 2010 will open with the most dramatic change to the operation of the selling of Australian artworks since the entry of Christies and Sotheby’s over 20 years ago, with last weeks passing of Resale Royalties legislation by the Federal Senate..
Art market veteran Jon Dwyer, one of the major participants in the November round of auctions with expenditure of over $2.5 million on behalf of clients, gives his view on the shape of the auction landscape next year, based on his interpretation of saleroom events during the week.
Sotheby’s had many reasons to feel pleased, despite the sale total at hammer price falling around 30% short of the low estimate total, for its November Aboriginal and Oceanic Art Sale.
Christmas came early for Deutscher + Hackett at their 25 November Melbourne sale, with the cover picture selling at a run away price and the auction achieving a strong 77% clearance rate by volume and 92% by value
Bonhams and Goodman produced a sound result at Tuesday's auction with a 71.3% clearance rate by value, and 70% by value for a total of $2,057,400 including buyer's premium. Surprisingly, Von Guerard's The Great Lake Tasmania 1875, (Lot 2), illustrated on the inside cover of the catalogue, failed to sell, being bid to only $750,000. However, at this level it would come as no surprise to see some post auction offers placed.
Sotheby's sale of Important Australian Paintings in its rooms in Armadale Melbourne on the evening of November 23, was just what the doctor ordered. Or at least what four doctors and one medical care professional, might have ordered.
In their final auction for the year D+H is presenting a large 200+lot sale featuring a broad cross-section of artists, peppered with a few perennial favourites, but with only a few big ticket art works underscoring it.
Sotheby’s November Aboriginal and Oceanic Art offering may be a mixed vendor sale but its success depends largely on the fortunes of two quite disparate collections.
For the last decade, the November round of auctions has traditionally been the weakest. This is not the case with Sotheby’s offering on 23rd November.
Since 2007, dedicated sales of Aboriginal art have featured on Parisian auction calendars, and while appreciation of Art Aborigène is still evident from museum and gallery promotions, the appetite for works appearing on the secondary market is currently moderate and has little depth. Apart from a few strong results for key works, the recent round of Aboriginal art auctions in Paris generated disappointing clearances around 30% by value.
As expected, Henry Alken’s Doncaster St Leger, The Start (Lot 236) was first past the post at the Davidson Meet on 7 November with a hammer price of $30,000. This was followed closely by JN Sartorius’ The Hunt (Lot 238), which brought in $20,000 against odds of $8,000-12,000. Two of the pre-sale favourites that failed to finish on the day (Lots 235, 237) are currently under negotiation.
Bonhams and Goodman have produced a rabbit, or in this case, an Alice and rabbit, out of the hat for their grand finale with Charles Blackman’s The Game of Chess 1956 being offered for auction for the very first time.
Tom Mathieson once had works by Norman Lindsay stolen from his gallery in a smash and grab (1). Now aficionados of Lindsay, Pro Hart and David Boyd are being asked to attest to the enduring popularity of their work in the 22 November Bay East Art auction, which features a core of 80 works from the stock in trade of Tom Mathieson’s recently closed Ramsgate based Australian Art & Investment Gallery.
Often characteristic of both Adelaide and Perth auctions, the Elder Fine Art sale on Sunday 15 November has a strong regional representation as its feature, from 19th century émigré star Hans Heysen through to 20th century Adelaide born and bred.
Amongst Davidsons Auctions 275 lot Australian and International Art sale (Saturday 7 November) are six British sporting pictures with a combined pre-sale expectation of $130,000. The four top works are by three well known proponents, whose production spans one hundred years of the genre.
International Art Centre's Auckland auction held on 22 October saw continued interest in the 19th & 20th century market, even though prices appeared inconsistent with recent sales held by the auction house.
If a year is a long time in politics then it must be an epoch in the world of fine art. “Let me tell you”, John Albrecht told the 350 guests gathered last night for the celebration of the 90 year anniversary of Leonard Joel, “running an auction house can be a lot of fun.”
For those who missed the Australian screening of The Great Contemporary Art Bubble on ABC2 on Sunday evening, October 18, it is available for viewing on your computer via the ABC's iView system, until about November 20th 2009. The direct link is: http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/program/454700
As a chill Autumn evening descended on London, 7pm 16 Oct King St, Christie's seasonal sale warmed a packed room of hearts and minds with a tight 25 lots designed to complement the traditional frenzy of the Frieze Art Fair Weekend that is the early October buzz of London.
When visitors walk down Todd Mall in Alice Springs or enter an Aboriginal community for the first time their initial reaction is likely to be horror. Sitting in the street displaying the demeanor of those under the influence of alcohol, Aboriginal people appear to be impoverished and utterly bereft of comfort.
This weekend, Auckland's International Art Centre presents the works from their Important, Early & Rare auction to be held on the 22nd October for public view.
There were thrills and spills aplenty during the auctioning of the first twenty lots of Deutscher + Hackett’s 2nd Aboriginal and Oceanic sale. Some solid prices were paid for works of significance, one work was an absolute steal and there were a fair number of disappointments in an auction totaling $1.1 million.
As anyone who has tried it knows to their cost, consigning art to general shippers or the postal service is often a nightmare. Most art is fragile. Included in general cargo, it is likely to be crushed under stupendous weight, spiked by sharp objects, or shaken like a cocktail. Just watch how luggage is put on planes.
Over the next month Paris will witness two auctions of Aboriginal art. While Australian indigenous art has been engaging the imagination and attention of the European public through gallery and museum exhibitions for decades, a steep rise in its attraction and appreciation by collectors can be traced to the celebrated 1993 exhibition Aratjara Art of the First Australians, and further renewed growth was evident following the 2006 opening of the Musée de Quai Branly in Paris.
What a difference a day makes! On the same morning that the Deutscher and Hackett Aboriginal and Oceanic Art catalogue arrived on collectors’ doorsteps, Tim Goodman announced that he had purchased the Sotheby’s Australian franchise. Two unrelated events to be sure, however both are likely to impact on the direction of the Aboriginal art market during and beyond the current economic downturn.
The newly minted joint auction house venture, Artemis, is in hiatus within nine months of starting.
Tim Goodman's purchase of Sotheby's Australia has aptly been described "audacious". True, but not out of character. Goodman is a risk-taker. He describes his forty years in the auction business as a "rollercoaster ride".
An infinity of archival websites is dedicated to public culture, from obscure TV programs to extinct rock stars as well as cultural titans like Mozart and Picasso. Yet here we are, a decade into the internet era, with few websites dedicated to Australian artists.
A business-like atmosphere pervaded the Menzies Art Brands sale of 23 September, in Sydney, which achieved an impressive clearance of 86% by lot for a total hammer yield of just over $5 million, or 87% by value.
Tim Goodman was recently trumpeted in the press about the expansion and development of Bonham’s & Goodman and its Waterloo based subsidiary Bay East Auctions. The Sunday 20 September Art Sale at Bay East featured 199 lots, including lot 45, ‘a pair of elephant paintings’. Not souvenir watercolours from a 19th century Grand Tour of the Far East, as one might expect, but actual works of art executed by elephants from the Training Centre at Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Webb's achieved a very healthy 85% clearance under the hammer at their single vendor contemporary art auction last Monday night. Unfortunately the total for the sale was $700,000, falling short of the $1 million dollar pre-auction estimate, however there were some strong prices and records achieved for works by some of New Zealand's best.
Terry Ingram, a regular saleroom correspondent for the Australian Financial Review, looks at the statistics for year to date Australian art auction sales, compiled by the Australian Art Sales Digest
A highlight of the Monday 14th September sale of Contemporary Art 1960-2009 at Webb's Auction House in Auckland must be the 3D auction catalogue available online. Michael Parekowhai's Kapa Haka security guard ($45,000-65,000), is an imposing presence on the front and back covers of the catalogue, with Gregor Kregar's Coloured Gnome Trio ($4,000-6,000) standing tall on the inside cover.
The Menzies Art Brands paintings sale (Sydney 23 September) comprises 160 lots with a low end total of $6.48 million dollars. In an otherwise generally lacklustre offering, spotted with occasional unusual examples from an artist’s oeuvre, the top 16 lots, each estimated over $100,000, represent a staggering 71% of total pre-sale value. Most of these works are by blue chip artists who consistently feature in the market’s top ten traded list. While this might seem like a safe bet, the stakes are high, as many of these same works have been repeatedly turned over since 2004/2005.
The much anticipated sale of the Estate of Marjorie May Kingston certainly exceeded expectations with the 316 lots being sold over a marathon six hour plus session. During the course of the sale nearly one thousand bidders and onlookers attended the premises in Tivoli Place, South Yarra.
Despite their lack of pedigree, three early desert boards were the star performers in Mossgreen’s Fine Early Aboriginal and Oceanic Art sale held at Randwick Racecourse on Monday evening. The sale yielded $690,172 including buyer’s premium resulting in a 62% result by value and 58% clearance rate by volume. Of the six early desert works on canvas and composition board collected by specialist Bill Evans, four sold, generating $184,030, or 27% of the sales total.
The auctioneer at International Art Centre's 'Contemporary, Modern, Foreign and Collectable Art Auction' in Auckland must have wondered whether the company's advertising dollars had been wisely spent, when the room was only half full, by start time of 6.00pm last Thursday.
The sale of The Estate of the Late James Gleeson at Bonhams & Goodman’s turned over nearly $1 million dollars (hammer) compared with its low-end total of $870,000 and cleared virtually 100%. The announcement by Goodman before the sale that all but a select few works would be sold without reserve momentarily stunned the room into silence, which was followed by an apprehensive murmur rather than excitement, suggesting the audience interpreted this to mean there were enough bids on the books to take sales well beyond published estimates.
Melbourne where was where the auction action was this week and proved that even the salerooms’ star lots make for great buying in this cautious market. At the Deutscher and Hackett art sale in Melbourne on Wednesday evening, this was illustrated by the most important painting of the evening Let be Let be by Colin McCahon (pre sale estimate $800,000 - 1,200,000).
The clearance at Session II was a spectacular at 94% by lot and 96% by value, and the energy in the room was palpable, despite the feeling of initial disappointment at seeing only about 50 seats filled for the evening.
A duel for Lot 1 and only one lot passed in from the first thirty offered, augured well for Bonhams and Goodman’s Melbourne auction on Tuesday night. This was to be the case – with 102% of the lots sold by value and 86% by volume, and more than $3.1 million (including buyer’s premium) being turned over.
The interesting and wide ranging offering at Sotheby’s last night, with good examples of collectable artists, drew out wary bidders. The potential was there for a touch of the heady days of yore, when bidders fell into plant pots and needed to jump to be seen from their spot in standing room only conditions.
Befitting the sale of an estate of a lady who was extraordinary, E. J. Ainger Pty. Ltd. have produced a fully illustrated A4 colour catalogue for the occasion of the house sale of the Estate of Marjorie May Kingston in South Yarra on Sunday 6th of September, 2009. Of the 316 lots on offer, around 90 are paintings, with balance including fine antique furniture, glassware, ceramics and other decorative arts together with some household effects.
The campaign for the withdrawal of the Benjamin Law busts of Aboriginal historical figures Truganini and Woureddy at tonight’s Sotheby’s auction does nothing to promote the cause for repatriation of items of significant cultural heritage for Aboriginal peoples, and is likely to further alienate the broader community from understanding the real issues that underpin this very sensitive and highly political issue.
Dealer turned Mossgreen Tribal art specialist, Bill Evans, has just about figured out the correct recipe for success. Six months each year traveling Africa, the America’s and Europe visiting collectors and friends while his former Caspian Gallery site in Sydney’s Oxford Street provides a comfortable income. And six months trawling a network of dealers and private vendors built during 30 years in the trade here in Australia, as he prepares Mossgreen’s annual tribal art sale.
Bonham and Goodman’s August offering is a who’s who of Australian art, featured in two catalogues, and offered in two cities.
The Telstra Art Awards aim to showcase the best works from indigenous artists Australia wide and works are priced, in general, for serious collectors. In contrast, what expectations should we have for the third Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair?
The fanfare is over and the red carpet has been rolled away for another year. The winners of the 2009 Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards are now well known, and are riding the national press train gathering status and celebrity at each stop.
Sotheby’s is starting off the August round of art auctions with a $7 million - $9.41 million two-day sale of 246 lots of Important Australian Art in Melbourne on Monday 24th August and Tuesday 25th August.
Small but beautifully painted, Lot 245, Balinese Girl, 1945 was executed by well regarded Dutch artist, Willem Gerard Hofker. Hofker lived in Bali from 1937 to 1946, and this work is from his series of extremely popular paintings of Balinese landscapes and dancers.
The highlight of the forthcoming Deutscher and Hackett sale of Important Australian and International Works of Art, on August 26 in Melbourne is the inclusion of four works by visionary Aotearoa/New Zealand artist Colin McCahon.
Debt, divorce and death - traditional suppliers of stock to the secondary art market - have created a heady mixture of Australian art auction offerings at the end of August.
One of the most important changes to occur in the Australian art market is imminent, with the proposed Resale Royalty Levy set to become law when Federal Parliament resumes on August 11, 2009. Originally proposed to take effect from July 1 this year, the levy will now commence on a date to be prescribed once the legislation is passed.
An Update to the "Art at Half Price?" article, as reported exclusively by AASD on July 26, 2009
A painting of two boys fighting over a toy was the catalogue cover illustration for a sale in Auckland last week. However, there was little fighting for the top lots in the room as bidders curbed their aggressive tendences, in the usual recessional way, for any dealings with vendors after the sale.
New Zealand moved geographically closer to Australia recently when the Shaky Isles suffered another of its periodic wobbles. But the tremors only seem to strengthen the attachment to a New Zealand long since gone, and the pink and pearly sunsets that always seemed a part of it.
On Friday June 26 The Australian Financial Review reported (page 3) that a 50% tax break on art purchases was available for ABN holders. Could this be true? And if so, what should be considered before art buyers rush out to purchase artworks at effectively half-price.
Would I finally see some truly awful pictures, and what would they be worth, I thought rather sacrilegously on walking through the blockbuster exhibiton Between Earth and Heaven, of landscapes by the great Vincent van Gogh at the Basel Art Museum.
A weighty catalogue worthy of any blockbuster art sale, extensive print advertising and a court drama that held immense appeal for the popular press, ensured the successful sale of the major artwork component of the collection of the now defunct Naval and Military Club.
In a sale distinguished by the low number of high value lots on offer, the work that graced the catalogue cover, created by colonial artist William Barak, sold in the rooms to Melbourne dealer Lauraine Diggins, on behalf of an undisclosed client for a hammer price of $420,000
A cache of artworks from New Zealands finest is on offer in Auckland on 30 July. Art & Object will present 61 lots including The Odyssey Group Collection
That charismatic Melbourne art fossicker, the late Neville Healy was very much part of the scenery over the several decades the art and antique collection of the late Marjorie Kingston was taking shape. The collection will be sold by auctioneers E. J. Ainger of Richmond at Kingston's home at 13 Tivoli Place, South Yarra on September 6, 2009.
THE nation's most famous military club has been forced to shut its doors for the last time. Melbourne's Naval and Military Club which once boasted presidents such as General John Monash and Field Marshal Thomas Blamey, as well as some distinguished folk elected to Life Membership, including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was placed into voluntary administration in February, ending 127 years of tradition.
In 2008 Aboriginal art sales plummeted from $23.8 million to just $11.8 million and, if this current Sotheby’s catalogue is any indication, 2009 is likely to see the market shrink still further
Whatever happened to the artist who most closely linked America and Australia in the age of Impressionism? And why isn't he represented in the Queensland Art Gallery's current blockbuster, asks Terry Ingram. The exhibition evokes one of the great Australian saleroom mysteries of all time but provides no answers.
Auctioneering lost one of the last great characters of a racier, more colourful age with the death of Major William (Bill) Spowers after a fall at his Arboretum in rural England on June 12, writes Terry Ingram
The economy and the lack of a raison d'etre explained the disappointing results from Deutscher and Hackett's first Aboriginal art auction. However, strong after sales gave the company renewed confidence in the future of these specialised auctions.