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.
“It’s a major turnaround from our last sale. We’re certainly not back to the high point of mid-2007, but I think it’s very clear that the market has turned around.”
The Barak was bought by Melbourne art dealer Lauraine Diggins, who has been known to bid for state institutions. Ms Diggins also made the winning bid on another of the night’s prized works, an early Papunya painting, created during the fledgling years of the Western Desert art movement by the late Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi. The untitled work, painted in 1972, sold for $168,000 (including commissions), setting a record for the artist. The painting will be included in the Origins exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2011, as part of the gallery’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Meanwhile, The Australian saw a roomful of interested observers, always a good sign:
Last night’s crowd of 150 people was upbeat, with bidding coming from many individuals in the room, as well as from telephone representatives. Sotheby’s managing director Lesley Alway said the art market slump had actually encouraged several collectors and public institutions back into the auction room.
“I think there are still quite a few people looking and watching to see how the indigenous art market fares with this sale, but we’re finding people have adjusted to the new reality,” she said. “Rather than holding back and waiting to see what happens, they’re thinking ‘Well, we’ve got to get in and make it happen’.”
Indigenous Art Draws Healthy Interest (The Australian)