A sale at Sotheby’s New York in November will mark the first time an international auction house has held a sale of Australian Aboriginal art in the United States.
Sotheby’s is moving its annual Aboriginal auction from London to its new headquarters in New York, a move that signals the growing awareness of indigenous art outside Australia over the past two decades. The auction previously took place in Australia from 1996 to 2009, before moving to London in 2015.
“For many years it has been my ambition to lead these sales in New York and 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark traveling exhibition ‘Dreamings – The Art of Aboriginal Australia’ at the Asia Society Galleries which presented at the city this vibrant art movement,” said a statement from Tim Klingender, Sotheby’s senior consultant on Australian art who will lead the sale in New York. “Since then, interest in the estate has grown steadily and it is now collected extensively by many of the world’s leading museums and private collectors.”
The auction house is a leader in Aboriginal art. He holds the highest auction price for a living Australian Aboriginal artist: Michael Nelson Jakamara. Five stories, which sold in 2016 for £401,000 ($508,161). He also set an auction record for an Australian Indigenous sculptor with Benedict Munkara’s Untitled, Male and Female Figures from Purukapali and Bima, which sold for £251,000 ($318,052) in 2016.
During the November sale in New York, two paintings by Emily Kame Kngwarreye from the early 1990s will be offered by the Dutch collector Thomas Vroom. The community elder of Anmatyerre also resided at Utopia in the Northern Territory, a former cattle station which was reclaimed by its Indigenous Australian owners in 1979. Kngwarreye is known for her paintings with batik cloth and for having represented Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale.
Currently, two exhibitions of Australian Indigenous art are presented in New York: “Desert Painters of Australia: Works from the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia and the Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield” is presented at Gagosian Gallery until July 3, while MoMA PS1 presented a performance by Indigenous Australian band Karrabing Film Collective until May 27.
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