14
Mar
11

Australian and International Fine Art @ Menzies

Arthur LoureiroMonday, 14 March 2011

Australian and International Fine Art @ Menzies

For their first auction of the 2011 season, which takes place in Sydney on March 24, Menzies pulled together a tight (only 100 lots) but strong group of paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and photography. Although the collection lacks significant 18th, 19th, and early 20th Century works (the market for which is dominated by Sotheby’s at the upper end and Leonard Joel at the lower end), the only notable exception is perhaps the lyrical Art Nouveau female nude by Arthur Loureiro (est $8-12,000), a rare and therefore institutionally significant work.

Brett WhiteleyIt is undoubtedly within the Modern masters that Menzies has its strengths, and the March offering is replete with representative selection of works by Arthur Boyd, John Brack, Russel Drysdale, Sydney Nolan, Jeffrey Smart, Albert Tucker, Brett Whiteley, and Fred Williams. As the catalogue meticulously indicates, a number of works by the above-mentioned artists have been around the block a few times, having frequently appeared on the art market within the last decade. However, the auction contains a number of outstanding items which are fresh to the market, and which according to the auction staff, have been extremely popular at the Melbourne preview: the market can smell fresh meat!

Fred WilliamsThese include an outstanding beach nude by Brett Whiteley from 1985, Washing Out the Salt (est $1,250,000-1,750,000); a strong work by Albert Tucker, Gamblers and Parrots from 1968 (est $180-240,000), featuring his iconic Etruscan-inspired heads and abounding with colourful darting parrots; and a very extensive collection of sculptures by Robert Klippel, from early, small, delicately whimsical construction pieces (est $30-36,000), to later large-scale edition bronzes ($110-160,000). I also must mention another two pieces by Brett Whiteley, both relatively ‘fresh’ to the market that (if nothing else) are likewise worthy of a closer look: his brightly coloured Feeding the Doves from 1979, constructed along the dominant contrasts of purples and oranges (est $450-550,000); and a slightly earlier Bondi, which is remarkable for the shapes of houses deliciously blocked out in thick, square slabs of rich impastos ($85-100,000).

Garry SheadThere is plenty for more contemporary-focused art collectors to feast their eyes on, including at least two significant works by Garry Shead, both of which haven’t seen the market since they were purchased from their respective galleries: Revelation (Royal Suite), from 1997, remarkable for its sheer size and compositional simplicity (est $250-320,000); and Artist and Muse (Velazquez), 2000, an exceptional and dreamlike composition from an important series of artist’s works (est $80-120,000). There are also strong representative pieces by Jon Cattapan, Aida Tomescu, and Ken Whisson.

Tim McMonagleThose with a taste for younger artists might equally be drawn to paintings and photographs by Julia Ciccarone, Alexander McKenzie, Tim McMonagle, Darren Sylvester, and David Wadelton. None of them are offered at bargain basement prices, but the works are still offered below their retail value. Exceptional among them are perhaps Tim McMonagle’s Princess Park (est $8-12,000) and David Wadelton’s Move on Up (est $10-15,000), very strong pieces by worthy contemporary artists.

As always, should I have been blessed with an unlimited bank account, my three picks for the auction would be the above-mentioned Brett Whiteley beach nude; a very important early Arthur Boyd’s Death of a Husband, painted in 1958 and belonging to an important group of paintings with comparable examples in public collections (est $650-850,000); and a sharp, engaging, and brightly coloured with yellows, purples, and accents of reds, yet minimalist in its aesthetics Lysterfield Hillside II by Fred Williams from 1974, a representative work from the artist’s important period (est $400-500,000). The last two works have been bandied about the auction rooms all too frequently, so there’s a hope that with this auction these worthy paintings would acquire a ‘more’ permanent home.

Arthur Boyd

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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