Christie’s Contemporary Art sale on May 24 is the latest in the company’s on going efforts to foster a market for Australian contemporary art. With a modest 135 lots, the selection of works goes for quality over quantity. Also notable is the absence of show stoppers. There are of course works by Bill Henson including one of the immensely popular Paris Opera series, Tracy Moffatt’s inescapable self portrait and a minimalist series of Robert McPherson’s from 1975. There’s also a Rosalie Gascoigne with an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 and since it’s one of the artist’s Schweppes works in orange timber, we could well see a new record. Aside from these few names, there’s not a lot of star power.
Christie’s, May 24, 2005
Of interest is a work by Adam Cullen which may well be the first work ever of his to be offered at auction alongside pieces by equally unlikely artists such as Tim Silver, Sangeeta Sandrasegar, David Jolly and HJ Wedge.
But perhaps the more alarming aspect of this sale is just how fast some of these works have come on to the secondary market. A peruse through the catalogue and you’ll find some startling attempts to offload work. For example, the Cullen, a work called The Best Person To Keep An Eye On Your Symptoms Is You was painted in 2002. The Silver crayon sculptures 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, Untitled (What If I Drive?) and Untitled (Baby I Wrote You A Song) were sold in 2002 and 2003, while a Cherry Hood called Tree with Couple was sold in 2004 and an Ildiko Kovacs called Dubbin that was shown at Martin Browne Fine Art in May 2004 – and which we reviewed here – is up for sale with an estimate of $18,000 to $25,000. Now that’s fast.