Aboriginal Rashomon

Chuguna/Bent painting

Bloomberg makes a case that Sotheby’s Aboriginal Art sale is sign of strength. But the sale came in at the low estimate even with commissions. The sell-through was 63% suggesting that Sotheby’s wasn’t following the policy that seems evident in the European sales of ensuing high sell-through rates as an indicator of renewed market stability:

The largest painting at the sale, a five meter long synthetic paint on canvas painting in vivid red, green, yellow and blue by Jukuna Mona Chuguna and Ngarta Jinny Bent depicting waterholes around the artists’ homeland, called “Wayampajarti Area,” sold for A$88,800, within its estimate of A$80,000 to A$120,000.

“It’s good value per square inch,” Klingender said of the painting, which was used to support a land rights claim. “By doing these huge paintings they were able to illustrate their connection to their country, to the judges and the Australian government, and thus got their land title back.”Continue Reading

Keeping Score Down Under

Australia’s The Age recaps the Aboriginal Art sale at Sotheby’s yesterday:

There was cause for hope that the darkest days of the art market were over. Sotheby’s first Aboriginal art auction for the year drew a respectable result, with 63.4 per cent of works selling, and 70 per cent by value — far higher than the dismal results of last October, when almost two thirds of the works on offer failed to sell.

Last week, Sotheby’s Aboriginal art specialist, Tim Klingender, predicted that the worst was over — and last night’s auction results seemed to confirm his forecast. “The Barak was obviously the star, I didn’t expect it to go for anything like that,” he said after the auction.Continue Reading

Sotheby's Aboriginal Art Makes A$2.58m

The Aboriginal Art sale didn’t hit the numbers Sotheby’s was hoping for of A$3.7m.

Looking at the results, there was definite drop off in interest on later sale lots. However, there was strong bidding on William Barak’s Corroboree which sold for A$504,00 against a high estimate of A$250,000.Continue Reading

Understanding Aboriginal Art

Damien Armstrong is the curator of an exhibit called Stars of the Desert that is up in Canberra. The show gave him the opportunity to discuss contemporary aborginal art with Australian Broadcasting:

Credit: ABCnews/Damien Larkins“Culture evolves depending on the environment and Aboriginal art and Aboriginal culture has always been representations of our environment,” he said.

New mediums such as acrylic paints and canvas have added a new dimension for artists to explore and express themselves. Art forms such as ceramics, pottery and silk paintings have influenced and been incorporated into traditional art.Continue Reading

A Key to Aboriginal Culture

Sotheby’s sale of Aboriginal art in Melbourne on Monday is estimated at A$3.79m but the lead lot is a drawing made by an Aboriginal leader, William Barak, of a corroboree–a ceremonial meeting.

William Barak, Corroboree

The drawing is the second-largest work created by Barak and of great relevance to Victorians — Barak was the head of the Wurundjeri people and the Coranderrk mission. Poignantly, he drew the corroboree on the back of a Christian poster listing the gospel readings for Holy Week. Continue Reading

All Eyes on Aborginal Art

Next week, the Australian art market sales cycle begins with Sotheby’s sale of Aboriginal art. The category has been taking a beating the last few seasons. The Australian looks at the sale’s prospects and what that might mean for the overall Australian art market which is down to a decade’s low:

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”.Continue Reading