Friday, 17 July 2009

Good paintings hold their value

Good article about the upcoming Sotheby's auction. As always, good paintings hold their value regardless of economic times. There are some great paintings in this auction and it will be interesting to see the results.

Aboriginal standouts should hold their value

Article from: Herald Sun

Peter Coster

July 17, 2009 12:00am

SOTHEBY'S Aboriginal art sale on Monday night is likely to see prices equal those of earlier sales of white-fella art this year.

That means a discount of 20 to 30 per cent on the prices that were being paid before the global credit crunch.

But, as with European art sales, the best paintings hold their value while the middle to lower end drops away.

Buyers in the boom were too willing to pay prices that did not reflect real worth.

But Sotheby's Aboriginal art sale at its Melbourne gallery in Armadale has some standout works. There are paintings by Rover Thomas and Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri.

There is also a huge two-metre by five-metre canvas by sisters Jukuna Mona Chuguna and Ngarta Jinny Bent.

It was painted in France during the Biennale de Lyon in 2000 and relates to land claim paintings.

The paintings show ownership, a pictorial deed, in this case of 10 big waterholes in Walmajarri country in the Great Sandy Desert.

Strangely, the colours have strong greens and blues and look like Caribbean art but they are the colours surrounding waterholes or springs that form an oasis.

It makes the painting unique and should attract a bid from one of the national galleries with an estimate between $80,000 and $120,000.

The NGV, in particular, will surely take an interest in Corroboree by William Barak.

King Barak, as he was known, was born before European contact and retained his tribal culture in spite of being converted to Christianity.

The 60 x 75cm drawing, using pencil and natural earth pigments, shows Aborigines wrapped in possum skin cloaks facing a dancing troupe clapping time with boomerangs.

It was an era when official government policy was to "smooth the pillow of a dying race".

Barak, a handsome man as we see by an accompanying photograph, lived with other Aborigines near Healesville in Victoria and was referred to as "the last of the tribe".

Poignantly, as described in the catalogue notes, a list of Christian gospel readings is stuck to the back of the drawing: The Anointing of our Lord, Our Lord's Entry into Jerusalem, The Last Supper of our Lord, The Agony of our Lord, The Betrayal of our Lord, among others.

This remarkable piece of cultural history has a photo of William Barak taken in 1895.

He is wearing white fella's clothes and sitting in a chair on a verandah, his hat and his dog beside him.

It emphasises an unimaginable gulf between two cultures.

Corroboree has an estimate of $180,000 to $250,000.

The Sotheby's auction also has paintings with excellent provenance and realistic prices that will attract buyers from $3000 to $10,000.

When: Monday, July 20 from 6.30pm.

Where: Sotheby's Gallery, 926 High St, Armadale.

Viewing: Friday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Annual Telstra Aboriginal Art Awards 1 month away

It's nearly that time of year again,

The 26th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award's (NATSIAA) open in a months time on the 14th August. It will be very interesting to see the styles of Art that the judges like the most after a recent trend back towards more traditional styles after a period of time where more abstract styles and mediums seemed to be all the rage.

Last years major prize winner was Makinti Napanangka from Kintore in the Northern Territory. The winning painting depicted designs associated with the site of Lupulnga, a rockhole situated south of the Kintore Community. The Peewee (small bird) Dreaming is associated with this site, as well as the Kungka Kutjarra or Two Travelling Women Dreaming.

The other winners last year were:

The $4,000 Telstra General Painting Award was awarded to Doreen Reid Nakamarra, originally from the Warburton Ranges, Western Australia for her untitled work. Doreen’s painting depicts designs associated with the rockhole site of Marrapinti, west of the Pollock Hills in Western Australia.

The $4,000 Telstra Bark Painting Award was awarded to Terry Ngamandara Wilson from Gochan Jiny-jirra in the Northern Territory, for his work Gulach – Spike Rush. A senior custodian of the Gun-gulol Gu-rrenyinga group of clans Terry’s work depicts a key emblem of the clans. It is a design for gulach, the spike rush that dominates the Barlparnarra swamp country.

The $4,000 Telstra Works on Paper, was awarded to Dennis Nona from Badu Island, Torres Strait, Queensland, for his etching on paper, Dugam. Winner of last year’s $40,000 Telstra Award for his 3.5m bronze crocodile Ubirikubiri, Dennis is widely acknowledged as an important Torres Strait Islander artist. His entry in this year’s award is named after the star that is visible in the early morning sky for about two weeks during August and September. Its presence tells the Torres Strait Islanders that it is the time to harvest the wild yams, kutai, gabau and saurr.

The $4,000 Wandjuk Marika Three-Dimensional Memorial Award, sponsored by Telstra, was awarded to Yolgnu artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu from Yirrkala in the Northern Territory, for her work Incident at Mutpi (1975). This installation consists of a bark painting and the artist’s narrative of the event Gatapangawuy Dhawu – Buffalo Story filmed by The Mulka Project. The bark painting and accompanying film are based on an incident from the 1970’s when Nyapanyapa was badly gored by a buffalo.

26th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award's (NATSIAA)

Exhibition dates: Friday 14 August - Sunday 25 October 2009
Opening: 6pm Friday 14 August 2009

Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory
Conacher Street, Fannie Bay, Darwin

NATSIAA Background

The Award was established in 1984 as the National Aboriginal Art Award by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. The aim of the Award is to recognise the important contribution made by Indigenous artists and to promote appreciation and understanding of the quality and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from regional and urban based Indigenous artists throughout Australia, working in traditional and contemporary media. The Award is an important showcase for both established and emerging artists and has come to be regarded as one of the premier national events in the Australian Indigenous art calendar.

The Award attracts a range of Indigenous artists from all parts of the country and about 100 works are selected each year from around 300 entries. The diversity and style of work submitted each year reflects the changing face of contemporary Aboriginal art practice.

Telstra has sponsored the Award since 1992 and has continued to further enhance its profile and prestige. In 2000, Telstra doubled the First Prize money from $20,000 to $40,000 and in 2005 Telstra announced its ongoing support for the Award amounting to a total of over $1 million in sponsorship over the next five years.

In 2006, the Telstra First Prize was re-named the Telstra Award and all prizes became non-acquisitive.

The four categories in which prizes are awarded are:

* the Telstra General Painting Award
* the Telstra Bark Painting Award
* the Telstra Work on Paper Award
* the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award (sponsored by Telstra)

Stay tuned for more information on the awards as we get closer to the opening.

Indigenous art sale a litmus test of the bigger picture

Or is it?

Whilst the upcoming Sotheby's auction will certainly give an indication of where the auction sector of the Aboriginal Art market Art, it doesn't necessarily translate across the industry. Whilst the figures in the article below indicate it has been a tough year for Auction houses, many galleries have defied the auction house trend and have seen their business cope very well with the so called "Global Financial Crisis."

Regardless, the auction starting on July 20 is an important one and it will be very interesting to see how things go.

Indigenous art sale a litmus test of the bigger picture

Corrie Perkin, National arts writer | July 11, 2009
Article from: The Australian

IT is sometimes said that when the Australian art market catches a cold, the indigenous art sector ends up with pneumonia.

This fragility is why so many collectors, dealers, gallery owners and artists will be closely watching Sotheby's Aboriginal art sale on July 20.

The secondary market has taken a pounding in recent months and experts are nervous that indigenous art -- with its influential international collectors and its unique model of community art centres -- could be hit hard if the sale is not a success.

Sotheby's head of Aboriginal art, Tim Klingender, is confident the auction of 153 works will reach its estimate of $2.5million to $3.5m. Last year's Aboriginal art sale recorded $3.7m.

But, like many arts specialists, Mr Klingender has had to convince his vendors to lower their expectations and agree to "very conservative estimates".

"It will give some indication of the health of the market and I hope it does do well," he said yesterday.

"If it doesn't do well, it means people will have to lower their expectations even further on the value of things."

In 2007, more than $175m of art sold in Australian auction rooms. This year, the total sales figure will be lucky to reach $70m, the lowest result in 10 years. So far, $30.4m of art has sold at auction.

The Sotheby's sale in Melbourne begins the next round of local art auctions. Melbourne collector Arthur Roe said it was an important one.

"It is the major indigenous art sale in the world and if someone like Tim Klingender can't put together a catalogue that sells well, then no one can," he said.

Beverly Knight, a Melbourne gallery owner and president of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association, agreed. "The reserves are very realistic and, obviously, if it's a successful sale, it will have a very positive effect on the morale of the market generally, and on the indigenous art market specifically," she said.

In the past few days Mr Klingender has received strong interest from collectors, including clients in Switzerland, Singapore, the US and Britain. "The interest expressed in this sale so far looks positive," he said.

Although there are fewer lots than in previous years, the July 20 auction has some historically important works, including an 1890s drawing by Victorian artist William Barak, which carries an estimate price of $180,000 to $250,000 and an early 20th-century hardwood engraved shield from southwest Queensland, valued from $4000 to $6000.

There are several paintings by Ginger Riley Munduwalawala, including his vivid 1993 Limmen Bight Country (valued between $40,000 and $60,000) and a 1991 Rover Thomas work, Massacre Site -- Old Texas Downs, priced at $180,000 to $250,000.

Auction houses Look at alternative provenance

For a long time collectors were led to believe that Auction houses were not interested in unconventional types of provenance such as video/audio recordings, progressive photos of artists executing works or other support information..

Well regardless of whether that was completely accurate, there certainly seems to be a big swing towards using these alternative methods of authenticity if the following article is any indication.

Personally, I think this is great as provenance methods long thought of as unimportant can be some of the most reliable methods of authenticity and to not incorporate them nor look at them as a potentially legitimate method makes no sense at all. A good move by this Auction house and a very interesting article.

Shapes offer no hint of the horror within

July 11, 2009

Tim Klingender with indigenous artworks to be auctioned, including Rover Thomas's Massacre Site , top left.
Photo: Jon Reid

At first glance, the painting looks innocent enough; a few abstract shapes and dotted lines that could be an aerial map or a stylised design.

In fact, it is a depiction of a killing field, a cattle station in the eastern Kimberley, where a white manager murdered a group of Aborigines in the 1920s - retribution for their theft of a bullock from a mob of cattle.

The artist Rover Thomas tells the story on a recording made a few years before his death in 1998. His voice is slow and steady, without a trace of anger. He chuckles at the ingenuity of one survivor, who hid from the gunman beneath a bullock hide.

"They never seen him," he says in a mix of Kriol and English. "That whiteman was busy - ptew ptew - shoot 'em up that other mob - killed them."

The painting, Massacre Site - Old Texas Downs, and the CD recording will be auctioned at Sotheby's in Melbourne this month and are expected to fetch between $180,000 and $250,000.

There are few written records about the massacre but it features in the oral histories of Texas Downs, where Thomas lived and worked as a stockman for many years.

Unlike most indigenous artists of his time, he painted the history as well as the mythology of the places where he lived.

"Some of his stories are about mustering and massacres and others are about the activities of ancestors," says the head of Aboriginal art at Sotheby's, Tim Klingender. "In painting the history of this country, he's doing something more contemporary, in line with what the urban, political painters were doing."

Only a few of Thomas's paintings come with explanatory recordings, made by the Aboriginal arts patron Mary Macha. Most of them are in public collections around Australia. Massacre Site, from the collection of the American casino magnate Glenn Schaeffer, is one of the few still in private hands.

"How many recordings are there of great artists - let alone indigenous artists - talking about significant paintings and significant events?" Klingender asks. "It is a work of great significance to the art of this country."

As well as a rare memento from the life of one of Australia's greatest indigenous artists, the recording is proof of the work's authenticity. In 2007 a Victorian couple were jailed for forging Thomas paintings.

"[The fakes] look obvious to me, but most people don't necessarily know," says Klingender. "You couldn't get any more of a guarantee than a recording of the artist talking in detail about what he is depicting in a major work."

Like most of the works on sale, Massacre Site has been given a conservative estimate to meet a cautious market. It last sold in 2003 for $279,000, but after a disappointing result at the last Sotheby's Aboriginal art sale in October, the auction house has adjusted its expectations.

"That was a pretty shaky time and a lot of private collectors weren't active," Klingender says. "What we've tried to do is assemble a group of works that are highly significant, and we've tried to place estimates on them 30 to 50 per cent less than what they would have been in previous years."

This story was found at:

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Welcome to the New Aboriginal Art Blog

Hi Everyone,

We have finally redesigned Aboriginal Art with a more aesthetically pleasing and easier to read style. We hope you like the new style and enjoy reading the many new articles we will be publishing on the new site.

In conjunction with the new site we will also be updating this blog on a much more regular basis. Aboriginal Art will soon become the number one source for everything to do with Australian Aboriginal Art and we look forward to providing you with a wide variety of interesting information on all aspects of the Aboriginal Art Industry.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to serving you throughout the rest of 2009 and beyond.

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