If, upon first glance, you confused this 1991 painting by Australian aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye with a recent work by Damien Hirst shown at Gagosian, you pretty much got the point of today’s announcement that Sotheby’s will relocate its sales of Aboriginal Art from London to New York this Fall to be able to show the often over-sized works alongside Contemporary art in their massive new galleries on York Avenue.
The aboriginal art market has gone through some significant gyrations over the last decade. The Aboriginal market collapsed in Australia in the wake of the global financial crisis. The primary market has seen some problems and frustrations as an infrastructure has been built for the artists. The international secondary market has moved from being revived in London to now coming to New York. (We’ll try to address this story in a little more detail in today’s AMMdaily email.)
In the meantime, here’s Sotheby’s release:
Sotheby’s is pleased to announce that our auctions of Aboriginal Art will now be presented in our New York headquarters. The first such sale will be held this November, alongside our marquee auctions of Contemporary Art and will feature works created by artists from the world’s oldest continuous culture, including early museum-quality artifacts dating from the 18th century to cutting-edge post-colonial and political Contemporary Art.
The November sale will mark the first Aboriginal Art auction to be held outside of Australia or Europe by an international auction house. Sotheby’s has conducted standalone Aboriginal Art auctions since 1997, with sales held in Australia from 1997 to 2009, and in London from 2015 to 2018. The sales will be led by Tim Klingender, who has overseen all such sales at Sotheby’s since their inception in 1996.
“Australian Indigenous Art has always been of global interest, with buyers in recent London sales bidding from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North & South America, and Australia. It has been my ambition for many years to conduct these sales in New York and 2019 marks 30 years since the landmark traveling exhibition ‘Dreamings – The Art of Aboriginal Australia’ at the Asia Society galleries introduced the city to this dynamic art movement. Since then, interest in the field has grown continuously, and it is now collected in depth by many of the world’s leading museums and private collectors,” said Tim Klingender, Sotheby’s Senior Consultant Australian Art.
Early additions to the inaugural November auction include two masterworks by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, the most internationally acclaimed female Aboriginal artist, emerging from the renowned European Collection of Thomas Vroom.
Summer Celebration (1991) and Untitled (1990) are both rare, large-scale, early paintings, and the latter piece was included in the artist’s touring retrospective co-curated by The National Art Center, Tokyo and The National Museum of Australia, Canberra.
Sotheby’s has remained the continuous market leader in the field of Aboriginal Art for more than 20 years, and holds the record for the highest price achieved for Aboriginal Art at auction, as well as the highest overall sale total. Recent sales have included works from some of the world’s most renowned collections, including the Thomas Vroom Collection, the collection of the late Gabrielle Pizzi, and the collection of Fiona Brockhoff.