Andy Warhol to the fore in Australian print auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 12th September, 2021

With a catalogue estimate of $800,000-$1 million, Andy Warhol’s Queen Elizabeth II 1985 (lot 15) is the centrepiece of Menzies inaugural Prints & Multiples timed online auction due to finish at 8pm on Thursday September 23.

The work is a complete set of four colour screenprints from Warhol’s Reigning Queen series. The vibrantly coloured portraits explore the convergence of royalty and celebrity – presenting the Queen as an icon of our time – and are set to establish a record price for Warhol prints at an Australian auction.

Apart from the Warhol offering, the sale features a diverse selection of 55 works by Australian and international artists and draws on current collector interest in important prints, photography and sculpture.

Other international highlights include two important prints by British artist David Hockney.

One is Untitled No. 20 2010 (lot 16) from the Yosemite Suite – which is an iPad drawing on paper in a limited edition of 25 and intimately captures the lush vegetation of and dramatic terrain of Yosemite National Park.

The other (lot 1) is a different perspective of California in the summery lithograph Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book 1980 and has a catalogue estimate of #30,000-$50,000.

Iconic British street artist and provocateur Banksy has two screenprint offerings in the sale – Christ with Shopping Bags 2004 (lot 14) being the first one and Morons 2007 (lot 55) the other.

With an estimate of $200,000-$250,000, Christ with Shopping Bags is one of his most important early works and portrays a wry critique of the commercialisation of Christmas.

Two of Australia’s most respected abstract sculptors, Ron Robertson-Swann and Robert Klippel are represented respectively by Vault 1980 (lot 17) – a small scale version of the welded steel sculpture famously commissioned in 1978 by the City of Melbourne that now stands outside Southbank’s Australian Centre for Contemporary Art – and the totemic bronze No. 807 1989 (lot 43).  

There is no doubt that this auction provides a comprehensive overview of Australian printmaking history with works by Jessie Traill, Fred Williams, George Baldessin, John Brack, Jeffrey Smart and John Coburn bound to excite auction goers.

Perhaps Australia’s most famous modern artist Brett Whiteley is represented with a selection of four prints including his popular lithograph The Cat (lot 2) and lot 24 the two-metre high etching, screenprint and collage Vincent (An Essay of Opposites).

The sale also includes an important collaborate screenprint by Howard Arkley and Juan Davila, Interior with Built-in Bar (lot 3).

Notable example of modern and contemporary Australian photography by Max Dupain, Bill Henson and Shaun Gladwell also is on offer, along with two works from the Common Sense series of contemporary British photographer Martin Parr, which were exhibited in 2003-04 at the Tate Modern and Cologne’s Museum Ludwig.

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