Artists of all persuasions prove popular auction purchases

Lower priced works by name Australian artists appear to be attracting strong buyer interest at auction – if Menzies November sale results are any guide to market trends.

Of the 125 works offered for auction, 94 (or 75 per cent) sold – most of them (67) at or below a $20,000 hammer price.

The big ticket items – iconic works by artists such as John Bracks, Fred Williams, Jeffrey Smart, Charles Blackman, Garry Shead and Tim Maguire – still attract sizeable dollars, although perhaps not the same heady figures of the pre-2008 GFC days.

And so it was for Menzies, with Fred Williams Hillside II 1968 bringing $800,000, a new to the market Jeffrey Smart Outside the Ministry 1970 $400,000 and a “tired” John Brack Adagio 1967-69 $550,000 – on what is its fifth appearance since 2010 through the same auction house.

French artist Fernand Leger’s China Town 1943 has lost none of its appeal. At its third effort through Menzies the painting still brought a hammer price of $1.2 million ($1,472,727 with buyer’s premium) – although somewhat down on the first time it was auctioned in 2015 for $2,209,091 (including BP).

Famous international artists still have a strong following – and so it was for Andy Warhol’s Muhammad Ali 1978 complete set of four colour screenprints (edition 114/150).

The catalogue high estimate was $200,000 – but so keen were buyers to obtain the work the successful bidder paid $294,545 for the privilege of ownership.

It is certainly easier for buyers to concentrate on lower priced works such as Brett Whiteley’s charcoal on paper drawings and colour screenprints.

There were three towards the end of the sale, all of which sold at a hammer price of at or above the catalogue estimate.

Likewise, there were several Pro Hart paintings on offer which easily reached or went above the displayed estimate.


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