Thursday, September 08, 2016

To be perfectly Francis

If your faith in contemporary New Zealand art was wavering, last night would have settled your nerves. The Tim and Sherrah Francis collection on sale at Art + Object in Auckland never looked to be anything other than a benchmark for the marriage of serious money with serious art. The first signs were when two Andrew McLeod paintings sold for $36,000 each, and that's the hammer price without commissions. By lot number 48 of the first night's 122 lots, over half a million had gone under the hammer and eight lots later the tally was at $1.5 million. By the end of the evening around (#notthatgoodatadding) $5.5 million dollars worth of art had been knocked down.The big ticket item of the evening was Colin McCahon's eight part painting The Canoe Tainui which sold to a Hamilton collector for $1.35 million making McCahon the top artist at auction (#sorryaboutthatgoldie). Among the big prices were a 1956 koru drawing by Gordon Walters for $66,000, Shane Cotton's He Pukapuka Tuatahi for $252,000 and and Rita Angus's Tree Cutting Hawkes Bay at $255,000. And these prices will all be boosted by commissions. Overall seven paintings sold for over $200,000 and 12 over $100,000.

True to form, Te Papa didn't even bother to show up. This meant of course that it missed out on the opportunity to buy many significant works including Tosswill Woollason's The Poet which obviously belongs in the national collections. Still, the Auckland Art Gallery was there showing that it at least is still an art museum serious about its collections.