Economist leaves Aboriginal art auction legacy

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 17th May, 2016

Better known as an economist who from 1975 as a senior Department of Treasury member helped shape Australia’s economic future, Alan Boxer also was an inveterate art collector.

Born in Hong Kong in 1927 and educated in Melbourne, Boxer completed Economics degrees at both Melbourne and Oxford universities.

He became an Academy of Science fellow, was a University of Melbourne academic, Economics Record editor and the author of books on foreign aid, tax reforms and the Australian economy.

While living in Oxford during the 1950s, Boxer purchased a set of framed William Hogarth prints – the beginnings of his art collection.

However, it wasn’t until he returned to Australia the following decade that his collecting began in earnest, which, in his own words, developed into “something of an addiction”.

Boxer, who died in June 2014, made his first significant purchase in 1961 when he bought Albert Tucker’s Gamblers and Parrots from Australian Galleries.

He subsequently became close friends with then gallery directors Tom and Anne Purves, who acted as advisers and encouraged his collection.

The result was impressive as he went on to purchase works by Australian modernist artists such as Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams, those by the Antipodeans group that included Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, John Brack and John Perceval – as well as paintings by Murrumbeena artists and the Angry Penguins, a group Boxer referred to as “a Melbourne collection of the 1960s”.

In 1985, Boxer was introduced to Australian indigenous art and his whole collecting focus changed.

He referred to the core of his Aboriginal paintings as “desert art” – providing meaning to his collection and acknowledging the fact that Aboriginal artists had transformed views of the “dead centre” and given it aesthetic appeal.

Paintings from Boxer’s Aboriginal art collection, along with books and music, will auctioned from 6pm Thursday May 19 by Leonard Joel at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra.

Artists’ works include Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Yam Dreaming 1996, Thomas Tjapaltjarri’s Tingari Cycle 2006, Dorothy Napangardi’s Karntakurlangu Jukurrpa, and Fatima Kantilla Pamijini and Murukuwunga 1990.

Other artists of note include Tommy Watson (Kungkarrakalpa 2005), Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (Untitled 1996) Marie Shilling(Untitled 2006), Carol Golding (Untitled 2008) and Maya Marda (Untitled 2006).



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