Australian modern and contemporary arts gain momentum: top five auctioned works listed

AUSTRALIAN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART PRICES AND TRENDS

As the 17th Sydney Biennale drew to a close, a recent article published on artprice.com reported on the improvement of the Australian modern and contemporary art market since 2007, despite its confinement to Sydney and Melbourne. There is a strong preference among Australian collectors for paintings, oil, acrylic and figurative work.

The article provides a list of the top ten Australian works which have been sold at the highest price between 2000 and 2010. Here is the list of the top five:

  • First-Class Marksman (1946) by Sidney Robert Nolan (1917-1992): sold at USD4,103,100 by Menzies Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in March 2010

    'First-Class Marksman' depicts a square-helmeted Ned Kelly pointing his gun into the Australian bushes to protect himself from the police. Picture taken from deutschermenzies.com.au.

  • The Olgas for Ernest Giles (1985) by Brett Whiteley (1939-1992): sold at USD2,445,280 by Menzies Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in June 2007

    "It's a highly charged, erotic painting and the landscape itself is depicted as having the qualities of flesh," said Adrian Newstead, managing director of Deutscher-Menzies, talking to the 'Sydney Morning Post' in 2007 about 'The Olgas for Ernest Giles'. Picture taken from deutschermenzies.com.au."

  • The Old Time (1969) by John Cecil Brack (1920-1999): sold at USD2,301,320 by Sotheby’s in May 2007

    'The Old Time' is a painting of a ballroom dancing couple. Picture taken from Art News Blog.

  • Opera House (1971-1982) by Brett Whiteley (1939-1992): sold at USD1,972,560 by Sotheby’s in May 2007

    Taken From: http://www.artquotes.net/masters/whiteley/opera-house-painting.htm

    This painting of the Sydney Opera House was owned by Qantas Airline. It hung in the club travellers lounge in Sidney. Picture taken from artquotes.net.

  • The Bar (1954) by John Cecil Brack (1920-1999): sold at USD1,893,060 by Sotheby’s in April 2006

    Modelled on Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, this painting mocks the Six-o'clock swill - the last minute rush to buy drinks in bars due to their early closing. Picture taken from Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Sidney Robert Nolan’s First-Class Marksman, fetching over USD4,000,000 in 2010, tops the list. This is against the price trend of Nolan’s works, which has been downward since 2007.

Brett Whiteley, named the “most sought Australian artist during the decade” by the article, produced The Olgas for Ernest Giles which has fetched over USD 2,400,000. It has been reported that “100 euros invested in one of his works in 1998 were worth an average of 555 euros by February 2010”.

Among the best results of 2009 and 2010 are the sales of works by Norman Alfred Williams Linsay which went for between USD100,000 and 235,000.

In the affordable USD10,000-40,000 price range are the best works by Frederick Cress and large watercolors by John Henry Olsen and Frederick Ronald Williams. In the higher USD40,000-120,000 price range are the still-lifes by Grace Cossington SMITH and tranquil landscapes by Lloyd Frederic REES.

Representing the young generation of artists loyal to the Australian figurative tradition are Rick Amor, Lin Onus and Vincent Fantauzzo. Rick Amor broke the USD100,000 line with The Waiter which fetched USD100,300 at Menzies Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in May 2010. The value of Lin Onus’ Reflections, Barmah Forest leapt from USD100,600 less than seven years ago to USD200,600 in March 2010 at Deutscher & Menzies. Some of her oils on cardboard from the 1970s can be picked up at less than USD10,000. Vincent Fantauzzo’s portrait Brandon fetched USD 43,580 in June 2010 at Menzies Art Brands, Sydney.

While the purchase of contemporary art in Australia is picking up speed, the performance of Aboriginal art has been in serious decline since its peak in 2007. This may be because the buying spree of best works by Aboriginal art masters who have died in the last decade is gradually coming to an end.

CBKM/KN/HH

Related Topics: Australian artists, lists, trends

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Comments

Australian modern and contemporary arts gain momentum: top five auctioned works listed — 2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Coralie, for notifying us of this correction. We have made the necessary name changes.

  2. Please note that the Sidney Nolan “First-Class Marksman” was sold by Menzies Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers (formerly Deutscher~Menzies) as was the Rick Amor “The Waiter”.
    Deutscher~Menzies (not Deutscher & Menzies) was renamed Menzies Art Brands in December 2009, and “Art Brands” was dropped from the trading name for the March 2010 Auction. The web address is still wwww.menziesartbrands.com

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