NEWS

Art market trends, insights and tips on buying, selling & collecting art...

#28 ART MARKET INSIDER GUIDE / JUNE-DECEMBER 2017


The Art Market Insider Guide is where I look at recent market activity and provide analysis so that collectors like yourself have an informed gauge on the Australian Indigenous Art sector.

As predicted, this has been a very strong year. 

Until very recently however, the year has been without the headlines and the fanfare that goes along with a major annual stand-alone Indigenous auction.

That’s because, with the exception of the Laverty auction at Deutscher and Hackett in May (and even that included both Indigenous and non-Indigenous works), there have been none.  

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#27 FIVE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE BUYING INDIGENOUS ART


Over the past 6 months I have noticed an uplift in international interest for the top-end segment of Australian Indigenous art. Serious collectors are once again taking notice.

As this international interest slowly starts to gather more and more momentum, it is important to realise that Australian buyers have significant opportunity now – after all, we have the home-ground advantage.

I’ve harped on this before but it remains true that the best examples of Australian Indigenous art hold their own against the best of any other art form or movement in the world.

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#26 50K: THE PURPLE HOUSE PROJECT


With such easy access to a great healthcare system in Australia’s big cities, it’s easy to be unaware of the very real problems faced by the Indigenous people living in remote communities. 

Chronic kidney disease is a particular concern. Rates of end-stage kidney disease in Indigenous people from remote and very remote communities are up to 20 times higher than comparable non-indigenous peoples.

Treatment required is expensive, ongoing and can often mean people have to move far away from their remote communities in order to access it.

The resulting dislocation and loss of cultural engagement and connection to family and country is an incalculable loss for these individuals and their communities.

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#25 LIN ONUS TAKES OVER THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE FOR BADU GILI (WATER LIGHT)


If you’ve been in Sydney recently you can't have missed Badu Gili (Water Light) - the magnificent art projections on the sails of the Sydney Opera House running since June. 

Living in Melbourne, I was aware this was happening but hadn't really taken the time to check it out sooner. I wish I had.

Not only is the 7 minute display absolutely beautiful, mesmerising and moving, but it begins with artworks by one of my favourite Indigenous artists - Lin Onus.

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#24 THE FINE ART OF PRIVATE SALES


KAAPA TJAMPITJINPA, Budgerigar Dreaming, 1972, from my 2017 Annual Catalogue exhibition

KAAPA TJAMPITJINPA, Budgerigar Dreaming, 1972, from my 2017 Annual Catalogue exhibition

Around this time last year I wrote a post about the increasing popularity of Private Sales in the Australian Indigenous art market. (If you missed it you can catch up here in The Fastest Growing Market Sector Nobody Talks About.)

As Private Treaty sales of artworks continue to grow exponentially and are fast becoming the leading method of sale of Indigenous art in Australia (if not already), now seems as good a time as any to examine why this is happening and how you can make the most of the trend.

The Australian art market has nowhere near the depth and breadth that can be seen overseas. In my opinion this is the fundamental reason that Private Sale – where prices are fixed and it’s up to the agent to find the right buyer – has become the most effective means to sell significant Australian Indigenous Art (and the majority of Australian Contemporary Art for that matter) within Australia.

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#23 A MATTER OF CONFIDENCE AND CONSCIENCE

How does the secondary market really benefit artists and what more can be done?


Confidence is the main driving force in any market.

When a masterful and large scale work by Warlimpirrnga sold at Sotheby’s in London last year for 167,000 GBP (more than doubling its lower estimate) it made international headlines. It was thrilling to see an artist, still living and working in Kiwirrkura, achieve such an incredible price for his work at auction - and in front of an international audience no less. It demonstrated a renewed level of confidence in the Australian Indigenous art market.

But there was also an immediate and short-sighted backlash following the sale, arguing that the artist and his family saw no direct benefit from this international result. 

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#22 TOP 10 MOST COLLECTABLE CONTEMPORARY INDIGENOUS ARTISTS


Rover Thomas, Djugamerri and Bolgumerri 1991 from the Laverty Collection, sold for $317,200 IBP at D+H, April 2017

Rover Thomas, Djugamerri and Bolgumerri 1991 from the Laverty Collection, sold for $317,200 IBP at D+H, April 2017

One of my most popular posts last year was a list of the Top 10 Most Collectable Indigenous Artists (if you missed it you can check it out here). 

With the noticeable shift in market interest to Contemporary artists over the last 6-12 months, I thought a perfect follow up for that original article would be to focus on the Top 10 Most Collectable Contemporary Indigenous Artists on the Australian market right now. 

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#21 ART MARKET INSIDER GUIDE / JANUARY-JUNE 2017


TOMMY MITCHELL, 1943–2013, Walu, 2009 synthetic polymer paint on linen, 152 x 152 cm, $18,000 From my 2017 Annual Catalogue

TOMMY MITCHELL, 1943–2013, Walu, 2009
synthetic polymer paint on linen, 152 x 152 cm, $18,000
From my 2017 Annual Catalogue

The Art Market Insider Guide is where I take a look at market activity and provide analysis so that collectors like yourself have an informed gauge on the Australian Indigenous Art sector.

I have intentionally held back this edition to allow more sales data and auction results to flow through, which helps set the course for what is happening in 2017.

It’s shaping up to be a very good year.

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#20 THE PRIVATE SPACE: ART AT HOME WITH BRUCE WILSON & GAËL MCCALMAN


Pictured:  Gaël McCalman and Bruce Wilson seated in front of Keith Stevens, Nyapari Piltati, 2011

Pictured:  Gaël McCalman and Bruce Wilson seated in front of Keith Stevens, Nyapari Piltati, 2011

One of my favourite things about my line of work is when a client invites me into their home to see a painting or collection and I get to enter a whole new world. 

I love to see how, where and why they decided to hang a painting, or place a sculpture, so that it fits perfectly into their living space.

This very personal level of interaction was not generally something that I was able to offer while working in the fast-paced world of auctions – but it is a service that I relish being able to offer my clients now that I work for myself.

Visiting these private spaces is also a great reminder that each time an artwork is sold from a gallery, dealer or auction house, it is merely the beginning or a continuation of its story – never the end.

If you are ever curious to see how art collectors live with the pieces they bring home, this post is for you.

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#19 THE REAL COST OF SELLING AT AUCTION


Have you ever wondered why the art market isn’t a more widely-considered asset class with a greater liquidity? In this post I explore the mechanisms which help drive (and thwart) the market here in Australia, from a perspective that you may have not yet considered...

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#18 9 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS TO VALUING AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ART


An Early Broad Shield nineteenth century, New South Wales To be offered for sale in my June exhibition of Important Australian Indigenous Art.

An Early Broad Shield
nineteenth century, New South Wales
To be offered for sale in my June exhibition of Important Australian Indigenous Art.

In my line of work I'm often asked 'How do you place a value on art?' 

In some cases this question is asked from a philosophical viewpoint, from which I'll spare you the answer. 

Mostly, though, it's a question from people with a serious interest in starting or building on their collections and wanting a strong framework with which to make their buying and selling decisions.

It got me thinking, while placing a value on an Indigenous artwork utilises many of the same criteria as with 'Western art', there are also many differences in our approach...

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#17 THE TOP 5 POSTS TO HELP BUILD YOUR ART COLLECTION IN 2017


As 2016 comes to an emphatic end, no one can be in any doubt that 2017 is going to be a very interesting and exciting year.  All eyes will be on global market movements over the next 12 months but it's safe to say that astute investing in objects of beauty, rarity and value will continue to be an enriching and rewarding experience.

Here are my top 5 posts that will help build your art collection in 2017...

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#16 ART MARKET INSIDER GUIDE / DECEMBER 2016


If I could sum up the 2016 Australian art market in a concise fashion it would be: the high-end excelled and the mid-low range languished.

In general, 2016 has seen marked positive shift for Indigenous and non-Indigenous art on the secondary market, highlighted by several extraordinary results at Sotheby's in London for Indigenous art and backed up with several record barriers being moved by Sotheby's Australia earlier this month. Both auctions highlighted the fact that important works with impeccable provenance and exhibition history and that haven't been overly exposed to the market, will garner significant attention by astute collectors...

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#14 THE COLLECTORS GUIDE: THE IMPORTANCE OF PROVENANCE


When a painting titled Five Stories by Papunya artist, Michael Nelson Jagamarra came up for auction recently at Sotheby’s in London, it was surprising to see it given pre-sale estimates of £150,000-200,000.  

A quick glance through Jagamara’s AASD entry will show that the highest price previously achieved for his work on the secondary market was AU$17,080 – which was for a painting sold at Mossgreen in 2012 and the next two highest results were way back in 2004.  

In the end the Sotheby’s estimates actually looked somewhat conservative and many in the industry were scratching their heads when the painting was eventually knocked down for over double its high estimate to achieve £401,000 IBP (AU$687,875) - an auction record for any living Australian Indigenous artist.

How did this astronomical result come about?  What drove the buyers to bid so feverishly for the painting at auction?

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MICHAEL NELSON JAGAMARA, born 1948, Five Stories. Sold at Sotheby's in London, September 2016 for £401,000 IBP

MICHAEL NELSON JAGAMARA, born 1948, Five Stories. Sold at Sotheby's in London, September 2016 for £401,000 IBP

#13 AUCTION REVIEW: ABORIGINAL ART AT SOTHEBY’S, LONDON


WARLIMPIRRINGA TJAPALTJARRI, born circa 1959 Untitled Sold for £167,000 IBP

WARLIMPIRRINGA TJAPALTJARRI, born circa 1959
Untitled
Sold for £167,000 IBP

I was recently in London for the second annual auction of Aboriginal Art at Sotheby’s, curated by Tim Klingender. I was bidding on behalf of several clients and it was encouraging to see the market at work from an international perspective.  Although the results were uneven, there were several standout results which only the international market and the international brand could deliver.

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#12 THE FASTEST GROWING MARKET SECTOR NOBODY TALKS ABOUT


An Important Private Collection of Shields, nineteenth century and earlier

An Important Private Collection of Shields, nineteenth century and earlier

The fastest growing market sector in recent years is undoubtedly Private Sales.  We only have to look at recent moves by Christies and Sotheby’s to further expand their private sale showrooms internationally as well as Sotheby’s acquisition earlier this year of art advisory firm Art Agency, Partners to see that the big guys are investing heavily in this area...

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#11 RAISING THE BAR

EMILY KAME KNGWARREYE, circa 1910-1996 Wild Yam and Emu Food, 1990

EMILY KAME KNGWARREYE, circa 1910-1996
Wild Yam and Emu Food, 1990

After battle-testing my 3-tiered platform for almost 12 months it’s time to take stock of what has worked and what can be improved so that I can continue providing you with the best possible service...

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#10 ART MARKET INSIDER GUIDE / JULY 2016


This quarter’s Art Market Insider Guide will focus solely on the current state of the Australian Indigenous Art Market.  As well as being my main area of expertise, it’s a field that has been severely affected by global markets as well as ill-timed (and ill-considered) government policies over the last decade.  However, several shifts I have observed in recent years indicate a clear and positive renewed interest for Australian Indigenous Art.  I will examine these shifts and provide reasons for my optimism in this post.

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#9 GET BACK TO BASICS: COLLECTING AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ARTEFACTS


For the last 20 years the market for Australian Indigenous artefacts has shown steady growth with objects of beauty, rarity and a solid provenance in strong demand among a focused group of collectors and institutions.

The market has broadened over the past several years with artefacts now being viewed as artworks in their own right. Taking the form of a shield, club, boomerang or any other tool developed over generations to cope with the harsh Australian environment, these objects, when placed in a gallery or private collection, easily hold their own form alongside paintings and other sculpture...

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