Australian Aboriginal art again proved a hard sell at Melbourne based auction house Deutscher and Hackett’s April 4 Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art Auction. The crisis of confidence which has plagued the market for Australian aboriginal art over the last few years continues to produce unpredictable results.
Among the 92 works that sold from the catalogue of 163 were a few glimmers of hope that signify a desire for works by the most sought after artists which are well priced and have solid provenance. However, even the best results of the sale could not mask the fact that a majority of the top lots failed to sell including Emily Kngwarreye’s Soakage Boar (estimate AUD$60,000 – 80,000), Paddy Bedford’s THOOWOONGGOONARRIN (estimate AUD$70,000 – 90,000) and Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri’s Rock Holes and Country Near the Olgas 2007 (estimate AUD$80,000 – 120,000).
Thankfully for Deutscher and Hackett, the two important colonial drawings by Tommy Mcrae - featured in a previous Artinfo Australia article - both went to new homes with the most significant of the two works, the artist’s Buckely’s Escape, fetching AUD$78,000 (IBP) against an estimate of AUD$60,000-$80,000. Both drawings were sold to the National Museum of Australia.
Top price of the sale went to Lot 32, a painting titled Warringarri - The Meeting Place by the sought after artist Rover Thomas (c1926 – 1998), which sold for AUD$108,000 (IBP) against an estimate of AUD$100,000 – 150,000. Coming a close second was the AUD$96,000 (IBP) achieved for Ginger Riley’s The Wet – My Mother’s Country against an estimate of AUD$80,000 – 100,000.
Lot 18, Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri’s Rockholes and Country Near the Olgas, was another of the successful lots realising AUD$72,000 against an estimate of AUD$60,000 – 80,000. The biggest surprise of the sale was Shane Pickett’s (1957 – 2010) Hillside and Hillsides Covers the Waterways which sold for $28,800 (IBP) against an estimate of AUD$8,000 – 12,000.
Interestingly, the most successful items of the auction were the collection of wooden artefacts which included antique boomerangs, decorated shields, painted statues and war clubs. A painted hollow log by internationally renowned artist Gulumbu Yunupingu whose work was part of the opening exhibit of the newly-restored $370 million Quai Branly Museum in Paris in 2006 sold for AUD $18,000 against an estimate of AUD$8,000 – 12,000.
The full auction catalogue can be viewed here:
and the results here: