the art market is reveling as more and more records drop
New buyers are entering the market and, as is often noted these days, wealthy collectors unable to travel abroad show a renewed appreciation for the culture at home. A case in point are the paintings of an exquisite atmosphere by Clarice Beckett, long neglected and now celebrated at the retrospective of the Art Gallery of South Australia. The present moment.
âI’ve never heard of so many people going to Adelaide, it’s like the Venice Biennale,â Deutscher said. “A lot of wealthy people who hadn’t yet had Beckett on their radar opened their eyes.”
There is a ripple effect in the secondary market. Beckett View of the Yarra, circa 1931, set a new record for the artist at Deutscher and Hackett, selling hammer $ 150,000 ($ 184,091 with buyer’s fees), more than four times its low estimate of $ 35,000.
A few minutes before, Beckett’s Bath boxes, Beaumaris, c. 1932, sold for $ 115,000 (hammer) in a new top for the artist, which was immediately replaced by Views of the Yarra.
âThese paintings were the first two Becketts to have exceeded $ 100,000,â Deutscher said. “I told the seller Bath boxes as their painting hit a new record for a minute. The previous high for a Beckett was set at Christie’s in Melbourne in 2001, for Autumn morning (early morning, Beaumaris), 1925, which hammered in $ 87,000.
Traditional works, whether by prominent artists such as Arthur Streeton or old-fashioned artists such as Julian Rossi Ashton, are back in fashion. Three of Ashton’s works were put under the hammer at Deutscher and Hackett, and all sold above their high estimates.
âIt’s satisfying to see that there is a smart market for Australian art history from start to finish,â Deutscher said. “As long as the quality is there, there is a really strong market for traditional works.”
Contemporary artist Imants Tillers also crossed the $ 100,000 mark for the first time, with the work Variation of cascade II, 2012, which sold for $ 105,000 hammer ($ 128,864 with buyer’s fees). Records were also set for sculptor Bertram Mackennal, minimalist artist Robert Hunter and Indigenous Australian artist Vernon Ah Kee.
Cressida Campbell’s work continues to fly at auction. Its unique color wood print, Japanese print and Clivias, 2013, sold for $ 230,000 hammer – $ 110,000 above its high estimate.
Two portraits of American artist Alex Katz, gallery owner Ray Hughes of the Estate of Sydney, both exceeded their estimates. In the bright and weird Self-portrait, vs. 1977 Katz was inspired by the suave Latino actor Ricardo Montalban, probably best known for his role as a white-suit janitor Mr. Roarke in the television series Fantastic island. Self-portrait hammer sold for $ 125,000, $ 55,000 more than its low estimate. Katz’s sweeter portrait of his bohemian wife, Ada with head and tape and lips, c. 1968, hammered at $ 135,000 – $ 90,000 above the low estimate.
John Brack’s deliberately awkward and austere nudes, on the other hand, are proving a little hard to change right now. Just like Menzies failed to sell Brack’s Green nude, 1971, last month, also Brack’s Standing nude, 1970, also from the estate of Ray Hughes, was passed on to Deutscher and Hackett. However, Deutscher is negotiating with a buyer around the $ 300,000 mark. Brack’s harsh but formally satisfying nudes have been enjoyed in the past. As Deutscher points out, he sold Brack’s The naked Boucher, 1957, in 2008 for $ 1.25 million (hammer).
âI still have that in mind,â Deutscher said. “It was probably the most difficult photo we have ever processed.”
In total, Deutscher and Hackett hammered $ 7.8 million in art last week, down from a low estimate of $ 5.9 million, with 89% of lots sold.
The sale of Australian art by Bonhams set four records last Thursday in Sydney, notably for Margaret Preston’s Australian native flowers, 1941, which hammered $ 410,000, nearly three times its low estimate, and for Ginger Riley My mother’s country, 1996, which saw the artist’s work go above $ 100,000 for the first time, hammering $ 160,000 – $ 60,000 above his low estimate. (Bonhams charges 23 percent buyer’s fees on the hammer price plus 10 percent GST).
In total, the Bonhams Australian art auction hammered in at $ 2,605,160, with 85 percent of lots sold and 160 percent in value.
On the same day, Bonhams’ Asian art auction beat expectations, bringing in a total of $ 927,180, with 84 percent of lots sold and 210 percent in value.
Two paintings by Rao Zongyi have exceeded their estimates – Lychees, 1989, hammered $ 70,000, more than eight times the high estimate of $ 8,000, and Peaches, 1987, hammered in at $ 60,000, up from a high estimate of $ 8,000.
âThe market has been exceptionally strong globally across all categories for eight months now,â said Bonhams Australia Director Merryn Schriever. “There is a huge appetite.”