Clifton Pugh, Black Horse and White Horse, 1956, (A$25,000), from the Hirst Collection of Australian and International Art shows the complexity of the collection, from dark portraits to stunning depictions of fighting animals | Source: Philip Bacon Galleries
If you can see an artist’s soul in their work, you can certainly get a good sense of a collector’s lived experiences through their collection. The Hirst Collection of Australian and International Art shows us a composed but coruscant assemblage of work, rare for an Australian collection these days, rarer still in Brisbane.
Next month, Philip Bacon Galleries will host the sale of The Collection, one of the most important collections of Australian and international art in the world.
Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Emanuel Phillips Fox, Clifton Pugh, Lloyd Rees and Brett Whiteley are just a few of the artists featured in the collection, with the majority of paintings and sculptures never having been available to the public.
The private collection includes a very old piece by Brett Whitely, painted when he was just 19, Portrait is a Whitely classic, showing a depth of maturity well beyond his years and a dark melancholy uncharacteristic of an Australian artist in his youth.
Three works by Whitely were included in British and Irish Modern Art auctions last week and he is regarded abroad as one of Australia’s foremost artists.
The collection oscillates between the vibrant and impactful light effects of Lloyd Rees and the darker, more solemn and sometimes violent works of Clifton Pugh and Russel Drysdale to present relevant and much talked about ideas through the lens of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust Paul and Friederike. Hirst.
The couple emigrated from Vienna to Brisbane in 1938 after surrendering all their possessions to the Nazis in order to obtain an exit visa and began their art collection in the 1960s, making trips to Melbourne and London to find pieces while buying art for their collection at Brian and Marjorie Johnstone’s gallery at Bowen Hills in Brisbane.
Tudawali Man by Russell Drysdale, Melville Island is the most expensive work of art on offer at $285,000, a brooding and brooding reminder of the sadness and beauty of Australia’s forgotten past.
Sculptures in the collection include Rodin’s sculpture of the head of Jean D’Aire, a tribute to the capture of the burgher of Calais by King Edward II to save his city from starvation during the Hundred Years’ War.
Hirsts collected for the love of art and money or appreciation of value were never the object, Geoffrey Hirst, son of Paul and Friederike, said of the collection: “There was never any thinking about ‘this might appreciate’ or ‘this might appreciate'”, and you can’t really say they did that very well. I wouldn’t invest in art if money was the goal.
The exhibition and sale of the Hirst collection will take place from April 5 to 30 at the Philip Bacon Galleries in Brisbane.