Painting auctions - Aboriginal art

Added 2020-05-08 in by Kamil Kusztal

Shoteby's painting auctions prove the value of art returning to cultural roots.


At the end of 2019 (December 13) in New York, Shoteby’s international auction house conducted the first (not held in Australia or Europe) painting auction derived from the Aboriginal tradition. The results of the event perfectly show how the western world awareness of this art increases and how it gradually strengthens its position on the international auction market.

Australian art in New York

The first auctions of Aboriginal art (whose culture is one of the longest continuous traditions in the world) took place on its native continent in the years 1997 - 2009, then in 2015 - 2018 they moved to London, and at the end of 2019 they came to the United States. The December Aboriginal painting auctions ended with a final result of almost 2.8 million dollars. 88 percent of exhibited paintings were sold and 8 new world auction records set. Images of modern Australian painting derived mainly from Aboriginal roots have been auctioned. As Timothy Klingender, senior consultant of Sotheby’s on Australian art, says: ,,To showcase these extraordinary works of art in Sotheby’s New York galleries was a significant statement of the value of these artists on the international market, and the response was very enthusiastic. Bidders were active from all over the world, with a large concentration of new bidders from the U.S. and Europe, further indicating the appeal of Aboriginal art to a growing international audience. [...] We hope the results from this sale will mark a new era for Aboriginal artists to be recognized as significant contemporary artists in their own right.”.

Of all 33 objects sold, the highest value ($ 596 000) was obtained by a painting by Emily Kame Kingwarreye "Summer Celebration" from 1991, representing traditional Australian dot painting. This is a large-format work symbolizing the vastness and colors of Australia's ever-thriving landscape. Self-portrait of Gordon Benett (icon of postcolonial postmodernism) with the subtitle "But I Always Wanted to Be One of The Good Guys" was sold for $ 475,000, thus setting a new sales record for this artist.

New York Aboriginal painting auctions are another proof of the enormous value of art derived from the traditions of indigenous cultures. Traces of such art can be admired not only in contemporary Australian art, but also in the art of Africa or South America. Undoubtedly, this cultural heritage is still current and present and increasingly appreciated by the auction market.

All sold paintings and details about these transactions can be viewed on the website of the international auction house:

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