The art of war

Aboriginal Art Directory | 25.07.09

Also drawing collectors this week was Sotheby's Aboriginal art sale, which answered some of the breathless questions troubling the art world.

Would the indigenous market hold up or would it succumb to the global financial malaise?

As with the great conflicts fought by old members of the Naval and Military club, there were mixed results.

The bottom did not fall out of the indigenous market with a clearance rate of 67 per cent by value and 63 per cent by volume but nor did it leap from the trenches.

The rate by value was achieved with the help of the $420,000 paid on the hammer for William Barak's marvellous pencil and earth pigment drawing, Corroboree, which had been sold in 1998 for $74,000.

The estimate of $180,000 to $250,000 was conservative, but a similar estimate on the Rover Thomas painting, Massacre Site, Old Texas Downs saw the painting passed in.

It is a major work made especially compelling by its subject matter, which represents the waterholes where Aborigines were shot down as they were skinning the station owner's cattle.

It deserves a home at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra.


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