"Beast" attacks auction with gusto
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 19th August, 2016
Mossgreen CEO Paul Sumner has described Albert Tucker’s extraordinary painting Attack of the Beast 1953-55-86 as so powerful, it stops any viewer in their tracks.
“This brilliant work was painted at an important time in the artist’s career,” he says in the introduction to the Fine Australian and International Art catalogue for an auction which will be held from 6.30pm Monday August 29 and continue the following day from 2.30pm at 926-930 High Street, Armadale.
Mossgreen’s head of Australian art Frances Lindsay in an accompanying essay to the catalogue entry says Tucker, with Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and John Brack, is one of the towering figures of 20th century modern art in Australia.
“Throughout his career, Tucker created extraordinary and powerful images as an artist whose riveting iconography never shied away from the harsh realities of human existence,” she says.
Attack of the Beast was painted between 1953 and 1955 while the artist was living in Rome.
It also carries the later date 1986, signifying Tucker made certain changes when he began to reassess his career in the latter part of his life.
The auction also includes works by fellow great modern artists Nolan, Charles Blackman, John Perceval and John Olsen – as well as Hans Heysen, Rupert Bunny, Garry Shead and well-known Aboriginal painter Emily Kngwarreye.
One of the Blackman paintings in the auction (the second Fine Australian and International Art sale for this year) is Red Tablecloth 1968.
The tablecloth theme and setting of the painting first appeared in Blackman’s Alice in Wonderland series 1956-57, notably with The White Tablecloth and Feet Beneath the Table.
John Perceval’s Bayswater Train Colliding with a Gold Mine 1989 is another work that should attract plenty of attention.
Perceval was only 19 when he exhibited at the Contemporary Art Society in Melbourne was immediately recognised as having great talent.
Although his early works were dark and concerned with portraying anguish and suffering, after World War II (where despite having contracted poliomyelitis as a child, through his self-taught draughting abilities he became a member of the Survey Corp) his paintings became more expressive, spontaneous and exuberant – possibly because of his ongoing admiration for Vincent Van Gogh.
One of his later paintings, this auction work is typically vibrant with a train hurtling forward through an explosion of colour and texture.
For more traditional art lovers, Rupert Bunny’s Offrande aux Nymphes (Offering to the Nymphs) 1919-1921 provides worthwhile viewing with a catalogue estimate of $50,000-$70,000.
Connoisseurs have long regarded the artist’s late mythological decorations as among his most original works.
His fascination with this subject no doubt arose from his father teaching him the ancient myths from classical Greece and Rome.
Aboriginal art lovers also should be interested in Kngwarreye’s Yam Dreaming 1995, from a series of paintings produced during the last two years of her life, and Albert Namatjira’s Ghost Gums, MacDonnelll Ranges c1950.