NEWS

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

#39 ART MARKET INSIDER GUIDE / JULY-DECEMBER 2018


  ROVER THOMAS , circa 1926-1998,  Kukatja, Wangkatjanka, Woolanguwa , 1989, 100 x 140cm,  SOLD BY NIAGARA GALLERIES FOR $300,000 AUD

ROVER THOMAS, circa 1926-1998, Kukatja, Wangkatjanka, Woolanguwa, 1989, 100 x 140cm, SOLD BY NIAGARA GALLERIES FOR $300,000 AUD

When news broke at Sydney Contemporary that Bill Nuttall at Niagara Galleries had just sold Rover Thomas’ Kukatja, Wangkatjanka/ Woolanguwa, reputedly for $300,000, there was a collective industry cheer. Not only is the stalwart dealer highly regarded and well-liked, but the important work was crisp, rewarding and thoroughly deserving of the result.

It also perfectly sums up the mood of the market over the last 6 months.

The demand this year, particularly internationally, has been steadily increasing in all segments of the Australian Indigenous art market. And I believe this is just the beginning of a more assured and consistent growth cycle. So let’s take a closer look...

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#38 SYDNEY CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR SETS $21M RECORD


A John Mawurndjul bark painting hidden under a bed for 10 years sold for an artist record $140,000 at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair last week, which itself achieved a record $21 million in total sales.

Approximately $10 million will flow back to the 300 artists exhibited at the fair, whose total sales increased $5 million from the $16 million record set at the 2017 event.

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#37 FIVE MASTERWORKS FROM MY SYDNEY CONTEMPORARY LINE UP


  JOHN MAWURNDJUL , born 1952  Ngalyod , 1999, 163 x 88 cm

JOHN MAWURNDJUL, born 1952
Ngalyod, 1999, 163 x 88 cm

With only 2 weeks till the Sydney Contemporary art fair, we're getting very excited about the incredible collection we're offering and the people we'll meet.

The collection, Reverence: Sydney Contemporary 2018, has just launched online and includes artworks by several leading Australian artists - all wrapped and ready to transport north. We can’t wait.

In the meantime I’m using this month’s blog to share 5 masterworks that we’ll be exhibiting at the fair...

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#36 A WALK THROUGH THIS YEAR'S NATSIAAS…


 Pepai Carrol’s  Yumari,  2018 - my pick of the exhibition

Pepai Carrol’s Yumari, 2018 - my pick of the exhibition

In the 35th year of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards it is clear to me, and many others besides, that the level of quality overall had taken a serious step up compared with previous years.

Not to take anything away from the excellent group of previous finalists and winners, it’s just that there appears to be a much stronger confidence and connection to self shone through for me, evident by all of the finalist artists this year.

In this post I will walk you through my highlights, starting with one of the absolute stand outs – Pepai Carroll.

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#35 ART MARKET INSIDER GUIDE / JANUARY-JUNE 2018

  LIN ONUS , 1948-1996,  Fish, Ferns and Rocks , 1995, sold at Sotheby’s Australia for  $793,000 (IBP)

LIN ONUS, 1948-1996, Fish, Ferns and Rocks, 1995, sold at Sotheby’s Australia for $793,000 (IBP)

I understand that the art market can be a difficult place to navigate. 

The Australian Indigenous art market is no exception and that’s why I publish a new installment of the Art Market Insider Guide twice each year – to distill the results and key market activity into a concise report that will keep you informed.

There’s been quite a bit of action in the last 6 months so let’s get into it…

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#34 TOP 10 MOST COLLECTABLE AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ARTISTS


  WARLIMPIRRNGA TJAPALTJARRI , born circa 1958,  Mamultjunkunya , 183 x 244 cm,  SOLD BY SOTHEBY’S LONDON FOR $166,153 AUD

WARLIMPIRRNGA TJAPALTJARRI, born circa 1958, Mamultjunkunya, 183 x 244 cm, SOLD BY SOTHEBY’S LONDON FOR $166,153 AUD

With my annual exhibition now underway, it's time to reflect - as I do each June - on which artists to look out for in the current market setting.

These are the practitioners who transcend the trends and stand the test of time.  They are the masters whose works define a movement, setting a benchmark for all those that come after them.

In updating my previous 'Top 10' I looked at market activity and all major exhibitions held over the past 2 years.  The result has lead to some interesting movement and perhaps a number of surprises...

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#33 SIGNIFICANT:ANNUAL CATALOGUE 2018 - PREVIEW


  BROOK ANDREW , born 1970,  Ignoratia from 'Kalar Midday' series , 2004, 103 x 160cm

BROOK ANDREW, born 1970, Ignoratia from 'Kalar Midday' series, 2004, 103 x 160cm

With my third major exhibition of Important Australian Indigenous Art due to open at the end of the month, and my team putting the finishing touches on what’s shaping up to be a very exciting catalogue, I wanted to share a few of the highlights with you.

Now titled Significant, my annual catalogue is a selection of the most exceptional works of art available on the market, exhibited in June each year at William Mora Galleries.

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#32 SHOULD INDIGENOUS ARTEFACTS BE EXHIBITED ALONGSIDE CONTEMPORARY WORKS OF ART?


 Installation shot from my 2017 Annual Exhibition at William Mora Galleries

Installation shot from my 2017 Annual Exhibition at William Mora Galleries

Over the last 12 months I’ve seen a clear curatorial push at several of our major institutions and museums to avoid exhibiting early artefacts and historical objects, with a stronger focus on contemporary works.

While this exposure is great for contemporary artists and their respective communities, I fear it misses the bigger picture. Let me explain.

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#31 TOP 10 URBAN AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS ARTISTS


 Brook Andrew,  Sexy and Dangerous,  1996, highest price achieved at auction was $84,000 IBP with Bonhams & Goodman, August 2007.

Brook Andrew, Sexy and Dangerous, 1996, highest price achieved at auction was $84,000 IBP with Bonhams & Goodman, August 2007.

Continuing with my popular ‘Top 10’ series, I’m going to review a segment of artists that aren’t all yet prominent on the secondary market but who are making huge waves on the primary market and should be watched closely in the future.

Urban Indigenous artists can be loosely defined as those based in the urban centres, descended from communities who bore the brunt of colonisation and dislocation, generally featuring less traditional mediums and styles and more political overtones.

The best works of these artists are always challenging and with a strong narrative, but often not easily accessible on the secondary market – taking the form of installation or site specific pieces.  Those that do make it into private collections are, to date, tightly held.

With so many important urban Indigenous artists currently producing this was a really hard list to define – but from the collectors that I deal with, these are the names that are making the most waves in the market at present.

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#30 MY OUTLOOK FOR 2018...


 EMILY KAME KNGWARREYE, 1910-1996,  Untitled , 1991, 228 x 129 cm, available by private sale at D’Lan Davidson

EMILY KAME KNGWARREYE, 1910-1996, Untitled, 1991, 228 x 129 cm, available by private sale at D’Lan Davidson

When the demand for great works outstrips supply, you know you’re in a strong position. And with such a strong surge in the Australian Indigenous art market, particularly in the latter half of 2017, I’ve been encouraged to make some bold steps in 2018 and beyond. 

Here is my outlook and some inside scoops for the year ahead...

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#29 TOP TEN SALES FOR 2017


 EMILY KAME KNGWARREYE, 1910-1996,  Kame Colour 111 , 1995, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 151 x 90 cm

EMILY KAME KNGWARREYE, 1910-1996, Kame Colour 111, 1995, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 151 x 90 cm

If you caught my recent instalment of the Art Market Insider Guide you’ll know my sentiment on the current state of the Australian Indigenous art market: it’s been a strong year. 

And the momentum is building - particularly in the Contemporary sphere.

But as most of the action has been happening behind the scenes, I want to share with you some of my best results for the year.

And so here are TEN OF MY TOP SALES FOR 2017 - there may be a few surprises…

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#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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