RDeutscher and Hackett Throw Caution to the Wind

by: Adrian Newstead   published: 24th September 2010

The current market may be soft but there is no point in being faint-hearted. Buoyed by a staggering 92% by volume and 117% by value result for its William and Lucy Mora Collection, Deutscher and Hackett now appear to have thrown caution to the wind. Following two solid results in October 2009 and March 2010 Aboriginal art specialist Crispin Gutteridge has amassed artworks worth $2.7-$3.6 million for his Aboriginal and Oceanic Art Auction to be held in Melbourne on the 6th of October 2010. In doing so he has significantly lifted the bar. The sale clearly signals his intention to seize the opportunity engendered by Sotheby’s vulnerability as market leader.

After building a solid client base with sales in which few works exceeded $50,000, the current sale includes no less than fifteen works estimated above this figure. Amongst these are paintings by Emily Kngwarreye ($150-200,000 and $260,000-$320,000), Queenie McKenzie ($120,000-$150,000), Rover Thomas ($420,000-$480,000), Paddy Bedford ($100,000-$140,000) and a collection Gurrir Gurrir dance boards by Hector Jandanay ($120,000-150,000). These six lots comprise 40% of the value of the sale.

Kununurra Bridge - Rover (Julama) Thomas
90.0 x 180.0 cm

Texas Downs (Triptych), 1998 - Queenie McKenzie Nakarra
180.5 x 100.5 cm eac

Of the high value lots Rover Thomas’s Kununurra Bridge 1986 (Lot 28) is the clear standout. This superb piece measuring 90 x 180 cm is the sister work to Thomas’s Bugaltji 1986 which set the artist’s second highest record when sold by Sotheby’s in 2006 for $660,000. Both were painted for Mary Macha. Illustrated on the cover of this superbly presented catalogue Kununurra Bridge carries a presale estimate of $420,000-480,000.

Emily Kngwarreye’s 228 x 129 cm Awelye 1991 (Lot 26) is one of a group of 8 on this scale created for Don and Janet Holt early during the artist’s career. Though resident in Queensland the vendor reputedly refused to loan it for inclusion in the artist’s retrospective at the state art gallery in 1996. Nor did it appear in any of the artist’s major touring shows. As a consequence it lacks the provenance commensurate with its presale estimate of $260,000-320,000.

Queenie McKenzie's Texas Downs 1998 (Lot 27) is an epic triptych. Though its scale is impressive, and the artist is the 21st highest ranking artist of the movement*, her highest price at auction to date was set 2 weeks before the market crash in November 2007 at $102,000. That result makes the $120,000 -150,000 presale estimate on this work appear highly ambitious.

Of the two works on offer by Paddy Bedford I much prefer the smaller (Lot 18) Jack Amble Bore, 2004. This textured work with the faintest pink tones merging through sections of the white ground would seem well priced at $70,000-90,000, while the far less subtle Mondoowoorrji-Medicine Pocket (Lot 53), 2001 lacks similar appeal. Bedford only painted for a short period beginning in 1998 until his death in 2007. In my opinion his best works were all created from 2003 onward.

In a sale studded with quality there are many exceptional smaller pieces.

They include a wonderful small 1950’s ironwood carving of the Tiwi creation ancestor Purukapali by renowned carver Enraeld Djulabinyana Munkara (Lot 4). Only 13 works have ever been offered for sale by this artist and every single work has sold. With his highest price being $60,000 and a career average of $16,176, this small sculpture deserves to be highly contested.

Three enticing small works on composition board by Emily Kngwarreye (Lot 14) were exhibited in the artists Queensland Art Gallery retrospective as well as the National Museum of Australia’s blockbuster, which showed in Osaka, Tokyo and Canberra. They are on offer as a single lot for just $18,000-25,000.

Lot 38 is another painting by Kngwarreye that was included in all of these exhibitions. Created in 1995 this thickly textured gestural line work is remarkably handsome and well priced at just $40,000-60,000 for a painting measuring 152 x 120 with such superb provenance.

Milliga Napaltjarri’s exquisite 1992 work simply entitled Artist’s Country is good buying at $20,000-30,000. Though only two of her paintings have sold for more than $25,000 previously, this piece is every bit as good as the similarly sized stunning painting in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, illustrated in Judith Ryan’s book Images of Power (p99).

Yet anther work that should instantly attract buyers is Walangkura Napanangka’s painting of the sandhills at Malparingya created for Papunya Tula in 2004 (Lot 42). With the artist now no longer able to paint without assistance, this large piece is a steal at $30,000-40,000.

Other pieces that I personally find very appealing are Anatjari No. III Tjakamarra’s Untitled 1972 pigment painting on composition board (Lot 19), Freddie Timms’ Sally Malay 2007 (Lot51), Rover Thomas’ lovely small 91.5 x 71cm Moon and Comet (Lot 90), Ken Thaiday Senior’s Beizam, Shark Dance Mask c1992 (Lot 102), Jimmy Baker’s Kalaya Tjurkupa 2008 (lot 114) and Ginger Riley Mundawalawala’s Untitled 1992 (Lot 137). All represent superb quality and value amongst a host of other lovely works.

Overall the offering is of a very high standard. In another clear signal that he intends to pull the rug from under the market leader on its own turf, Gutteridge has maintained his policy of accepting works with the same narrow range of provenance as Sotheby’s. This would have been all but unthinkable as the market reached its peak during the period 2004-2007. That he is able to do so today is entirely due to the heat having gone out of the market. Secondary market dealers are being flooded with high quality material. The challenge is to replace their aging clients, with a new generation of collectors that will begin to collect, just as their predecessors did 20-40 years ago, in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.

Adrian’s Top Ten Works in Sale

Lot 4 Enraeld Djulubinyana Munkara, Purukapali c1955
Comment: extremely rare, small but fine example, powerful

Lot 14 Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Awelye 1990
Comment: Early career works, organic feel, wonderful provenance

Lot 15 Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Oorooterna,Wild Fruits, 1991
Comment: Early work, good provenance, advantagous estimate

Lot 16 Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Alalgura Country, 1994
Comment: Striking, excellent example of transition to line work

Lot 18 Paddy Bedford, Jack Amble Bore, 2004
Comment: Artist’s best period, textured pink tones through white ground

Lot 19 Anatjari No. III Tjakamarra, Untitled 1972
Comment: Low estimate for 1972 example with great image and condition

Lot 28 Rover Thomas, Kununurra Bridge 1986
Comment: Superb work, museum quality, great provenance, undervalued

Lot 38 Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Untitled, 1995
Comment: remarkably handsome, superb provenance, well priced

Lot 85 Various Artists, 17 Gurrir Gurrir Dance Boards, 1996
Comment: Unique Collection, created for ceremony , rare in private domain

Ten Most Undervalued Works

Adrian’s advice based on quality, rarity and current equivalent market values:

Lot 38 Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Untitled, 1995
Estimate: $40,000-60,000 Pay to: $60,000 hammer

Lot 49 George Ward Tjungurrayi, Tingari at Karrkurritinytja, 2005
Estimate: $20,000-30,000 Pay to: $40,000 hammer

Lot 73 Fred Grant, Ukadatjara, 2005
Estimate: $3,400-4,200 Pay to: $5,000 hammer

Lot 74 Gerome Anderson, Ikarningka, c 2005
Estimate: $3,000-4,000 Pay to: $5,500 hammer

Lot 81 Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, Untitled, 2002
Estimate: $8,000-12,000 Pay to: $20,000 hammer

Lot 119 Fiona Omeenyo, Big Family, 2004
Estimate: $14,000-$18,000 Pay to: $25,000 hammer

Lot 128 Hector Jandanay, Ngarrgooroon Country, 2001
Estimate: $2,000-2,500 Pay to: $3,500 hammer

Lot 135 Djambu Barra Barra, The Brolgas March, 1992
Estimate: $5,000-7,000 Pay to: $12,000 hammer

Lot 170 Ian Abdulla, Two works, 2006
Estimate: $8,000-12,000 Pay to: $12,000 hammer

Lot 172 Nawurapu Wunungmurra, 3 Ganytjurr Carvings
Estimate: $3,000-4,000 Pay to: $5,000 hammer

Adrian’s Ten Top Value Picks

Lot 4 Enraeld Djulubinyana Munkara, Purukapali c1955
Comment: Love it. Rare piece by revered Tiwi carver

Lot 5 Jan Billycan, Kirriwirri,2008
Comment: Lovely texture, Glorious small example by best Yulparija artist

Lot 7 Daniel Walbidi, 2 Works, 2008
Comment: Walbidi is the best young artist in the west hands down

Lot 21 Elizabeth Nyumi, Parwalla,2002
Comment: beautiful example exhibited in the Biennale of Sydney

Lot 38 Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Untitled, 1995
Comment: remarkably handsome, superb provenance, well priced

Lot 114 Jimmy Baker, Kalaya Tjukurpa, 2008
Comment: Fine work by much lauded artist now no longer able to paint

Lot 128 Hector Jandanay, Ngarrgooroon Country, 2001
Comment: lovely small work by one of the Kimberley’s great characters

Lot 137 Ginger Riley Mundawalawala, Untitled, 1992
Comment: best small work by Riley I have seen in a very long time

Lot 140 England Bangala, Rainbow Serpent c.1985
Comment: lovely bark, good condition and size, great artist

Lot 173 Charlie Rurkula, Brolga, 1987
Comment: I love anything by this fine old sculptor of the 1980’s

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

AIAM Rank 1 AIAM Rating 30.8759

Rover (Julama) Thomas

AIAM Rank 2 AIAM Rating 23.5833

Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford

AIAM Rank 6 AIAM Rating 11.0876

Queenie McKenzie Nakarra

AIAM Rank 25 AIAM Rating 5.2079

Freddie Timms

AIAM Rank 35 AIAM Rating 4.2320

Walangkura Napanangka

AIAM Rank 51 AIAM Rating 3.2581

Enraeld Djulabinyanna Munkara

AIAM Rank 76 AIAM Rating 2.1561

Milliga Napaljarri

AIAM Rank 104 AIAM Rating 1.6393

Senior, Ken Thaiday

Artist's Country 1992 by Milliga Napaljarri
Artist's Country 1992
Milliga Napaljarri

91.5 x 61 cm
#312576

Mendoowoorrji - Medicine Pocket 2001 by Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford
Mendoowoorrji - Medicine Pocket 2001
Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford 4

150 x 180 cm
#20100831151458

Awelye by Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Awelye
Emily Kame Kngwarreye 10

228.0 x 129.0 cm
#20100925142832

Texas Downs (Triptych), 1998 by Queenie McKenzie Nakarra
Texas Downs (Triptych), 1998
Queenie McKenzie Nakarra 13

180.5 x 100.5 cm eac
#20100925143124

Purukapali by Enraeld Djulabinyanna Munkara
Purukapali
Enraeld Djulabinyanna Munkara

60.0 cm heigh
#20100925143615

Awelye by Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Awelye
Emily Kame Kngwarreye 10

30.5 x 45.0 cm each
#20100925143805

Untitled, 2004 by Walangkura Napanangka
Untitled, 2004
Walangkura Napanangka 5

181.5 x 242.5 cm
#20100925143955

Kununurra Bridge  by Rover (Julama) Thomas
Kununurra Bridge
Rover (Julama) Thomas 3

90.0 x 180.0 cm
#20100929222701

Moon And Comet, 1996 by Rover (Julama) Thomas
Moon And Comet, 1996
Rover (Julama) Thomas 3

91.5 x 71.0 cm
#20100930224810

Untitled, 1995 by Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Untitled, 1995
Emily Kame Kngwarreye 10

152.0 x 120.0 cm
#20100930231608

Sally Malay, 2007 by Freddie Timms
Sally Malay, 2007
Freddie Timms 7

122.0 x 135.5 cm
#20100930232459

Beizam, Shark Dance Mask, c1992 by Senior, Ken Thaiday
Beizam, Shark Dance Mask, c1992
Senior, Ken Thaiday

91.0 cm length
#20100930233531

Jack Amble Bore, 2004 by Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford
Jack Amble Bore, 2004
Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford 4

122.0 x 135.0 cm
#20100930234630

Untitled, 1992 by Ginger Riley Munduwalawala
Untitled, 1992
Ginger Riley Munduwalawala

56.5 x 74.0 cm
#20100930235308