Excitement over possible new auction record for Australian artist
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 19th February, 2020
Menzies is excited about the potential for a new artist auction record for Australian artist Del Kathryn Barton’s painting Openly Song 2014 (lot 33) at its first sale for 2020 from 6.30pm Thursday February 27 at 1 Darling Street, South Yarra.
Chief executive officer Justin Turner describes the painting, which has never been auctioned before, as the best of her works to come onto the secondary market.
“It is on the catalogue cover and should set a new record for the artist, eclipsing the $378,200 including buyer’s premium achieved in May 2018 at Sotheby’s Australia’s sale for Of Pollen,” he said.
Openly Song was exhibited in January 2015 at Arndt Fine Art in Singapore and again at the Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria from November 2017 to March 2018.
“It is larger than the current record holding work and also has been referenced in six publications – more than Of Pollen,” Mr Turner said.
Another secondary market “first timer” is Jeffrey Smart’s Conversation Piece (lot 36), which was painted in 1998 for an Australian Galleries, Melbourne exhibition and purchased from there by the current owner.
Mr Turner said there were six studies for this oil painting in the 18 months leading up to the exhibition and the auction work is estimated at $800,000-$1 million.
“Lot 1 – Margaret Preston’s Mosman Bay Bridge c1920 coloured woodblock print – is one of only two known examples so is extremely rare and we expect substantial interest,” he said. “The other is in Sydney’s John Passmore Museum of Art Collection.”
Likewise for lot 3 – Rick Amor’s only charcoal on paper version of his painting The Waiter 1996.
Strong interest also should centre on John Brack’s Pantomime 1988 (lot 31), which according to Mr Turner at $80,000-$100,000 represents no better value for money for this iconic Australian artist.
“Another major work of his is Reclining Nude 1980 (lot 35) which was exhibited that year at Sydney’s Rudy Komon Gallery and bought by Dr Joan Croll AO in whose collection it has resided ever since,” he said.
Of course, auction goers will probably not be able to go past Brett Whiteley’s major painting Gaugin 1968 (lot 37) whose price is available only on application but is rumoured to be estimated at between $2 million and $2.5 million.
Of the many other artists represented in the 152-lot sale, Howard Arkley’s Discocacti 1986 (lot 32) is worth a look – along with Garry Shead’s Untitled (DH Lawrence series) 1992-93 (lot 30) and Charles Blackman’s Song of the Flute c1982 (lot 29).