Enormous post-Modern works really grab the auction eye

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 18th March, 2016

What immediately strikes art lovers as they enter Stonington Mansion to view Menzies Art Brands first offerings for 2016 is the enormous Garry Shead painting entitled The Studio 2001 prominently displayed in the foyer.

This must be the auction for enormous works – major paintings by Tim Storrier and Rick Amor in an adjoining room are equally impressive, as is the upstairs display of Michael Johnson’s giant Vermillion 1995.

For Menzies this is a concerted attempt to change serious collectors thinking from only considering the great names of Modern Australian Art.

The aim is to expand their horizons to include the leaders of the post-Modern generation such as Shead, Storrier and Amor.

They are well worthy of consideration. Shead’s career was invigorated in the early 1990s when he won the Archibald Prize and began his rise to the top of the contemporary sphere. Many now rate him as Australia’s most important living artist.

Tim Storrier’s Over the Night Road (Flame and Line) is an impressive work that creates a celestial tour de force, uniting essential elements that drive some of his most well known and sought after paintings – according to art curator Marguerite Brown.

Likewise, Rick Amor’s The Attic Amphora (The Lamp) 1994. Privately commissioned by the current owner, the painting is based on the lamps that adorn the historical 19th century building at 333 Collins Street in Melbourne. These are the remnants of building’s glory days when it was home to one of Melbourne’s richest financial institutions.

While collectors might be scratching their heads wondering where they can display such huge paintings should they decide to purchase, all is not lost for those who still wish to pursue the established modern artists.

Jeffrey Smart’s Panel of Studies for Autobahn in the Black Forest 1979 (estimate $140,000-$180,000) is a classic example of the artist’s work from his best period.

Autobahn in the Black Forest II broke the $1 million barrier when it sold a few years ago.

And Brett Whiteley continues to be the most important name for Australian collectors.

In this auction, there are three Whiteleys of note – the oil The Shower 1984, inspired by his wife Wendy, an over-life-size ink and wash on paper, The Reclining Nude and Kurrajong 1981, an oil, gauche, collage and branch on board that comes from a Victorian-based company collection.

Another auction feature is the small group of works by Australia’s most successful sculptor, Bertram Mackennal.

Mackennal left Australia in 1882 for London where, with the help of friends Tom Roberts and Dame Nellie Melba and an acquaintanceship with Rodin, he established himself as a leading sculptor.

At the peak of his career, Mackennal was the go-to man for Royal portraits and sculptural monuments.

Viewing is from 11am-6pm Friday to Tuesday at Stonington Mansion 336 Glenferrie Road, Malvern.

The auction is at 1 Darling Street, South Yarra from 6.30pm Wednesday March 23. 

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