Aboriginal Art Auction

The best art to come out of Australia is Aboriginal art, both old and contemporary Aboriginal art. Everything else in Australian art is either derivative and/or regional and will never leave the shores of Australia.

The best Aboriginal art deserves so much more credit than it currently receives. Auction prices for Aboriginal art have been increasing and international collectors are buying more but I think it should be getting a lot more loving than it does.

The auction house Deutscher and Hackett will be holding their inaugural Aboriginal art auction in Melbourne on the 25th of March. They have a range of paintings, sculptures and weavings with prices ranging from a couple thousand dollars through to a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Here’s a few that I liked..

I’m thinking about bidding on this little beauty. It’s by unknown artist and has a low estimate, so readers of this post are NOT allowed to bid on it! ;-)

aboriginal paintings
Fish, c1950 (Groote Eylandt) natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark 28.0 x 49.0 cm
ESTIMATE: $1,500 – 2,000

Australian aboriginal paintings
Untitled, 1981 (c1937 – 1999) synthetic polymer paint on linen 186.5 x 154.0 cm
ESTIMATE: $10,000 – 15,000

Untitled (Alhalkere), 1995 (c1910 – 1996) synthetic polymer paint on linen 110.0 x 201.0 cm
ESTIMATE: $150,000 – 200,000

Australian aboriginal painting
Marrapinti, 2002 born 1932 synthetic polymer paint on linen 168.0 x 46.0 cm
ESTIMATE: $4,000 – 6,000

See the full online catalog of the Aboriginal art auction at the Deutscher and Hackett website here.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Dont be so hard on the white, and whatever pigmented other, man. We also have great indigenous arts, not so much in the United States, its not as good as what you are showing. But precolumbian pottery and contemporary works like the layered cut out cloth Mola’s from an island off the coast of Panama in Latin America. Cool hats and blankets of course too. Got two Molas over my fireplace, and a early west Mexican warrior figure on the book shelves.

    With lots of art books of course, and The Great Books my wifes parents had, interesting as they were lawyers for the Nation of Islam. Or had been back in the day. My ancient Encylopaedia Britanica in my work room, can bear to thrown them out.

    Art can come from anywhere, long standing traditions give a foundation to build from, which is why so much Contempt stuf is crap, it hs not knowledge of a basis on which to build, and so like the straw house of the three lil pigs, is blown away in an instant. Traditions are developed languages, its up to the practioner to both master them, and have something to say.

    New for the sake of being new is simply consumerism, looking for something different, investing like a postage stamp. Not Art at all. We all must learn from the aspt, but can use works from all over the planet, but must focus on developing our own langauge, with again, something to say, something completley ignored in art schools. Knowledge is power, in art as with everything else in life.

    Now, i have enjoyed much of what I have seen from the suncrisped land. Light and airy, dry, sunblanched, and witha design elemnt. It ahs built both on native and European visual history, its pretty interesting, much is art, if not exactly ground braeaking stuff. Which is often highly overrated. Dont be so hard on the tennis playing folks,you ahve done alright, much better than the Brits, arrrgh! their stuff is so self absorbed, and whiny. With all that overcooked food, what do you expect? Sorry Norfolk. Roo burgers much better i would think. Things come in their own time, but only when you keep focued and working at it. forget the history books, just make works relevant to man, and you will be fine, doing alright by me, far less nonsense than here.

  2. I like this fellow, Joe Furlonger. Is he derivative or regional?

  3. Joe Furlonger is fine.. I like his stuff. I like Michael Bell at the Ray Hughes gallery too

    I like a lot of Australian painters. None of them will ever leave the comfort of their homeland though. And that’s fine, but I would like to see at least one or two Australian artists make it internationally. I can’t think of one.

    Donald, I have had roo sausages and didnt like them. Kangaroo now has its own little section in the meat displays at big supermarkets, so someone must be out there eating them.

  4. Arthur Galloway says:

    I think you will find Australian painter Andrew Baines is doing particularly well outside the shores of Australia as well as inside!

    Particularly selling well in the US, Canada, Switzerland and the UK






  5. I would have thought that Aboriginal art, by its very nature, is both derivative and regional? Considering much of the work describes either local terrain, environments, legends etc. in the style of art attributed to the various tribes/communities.

    It seems to me that it is the collectors lack of knowledge and viewing of aboriginal art simply as ‘designs’ that misses the point because the work is usually more complex and meaningful to those who know how to interpret it.

    Personally I find the second sentence of the first paragraph in this blog post is highly offensive, causing everything else you had to say to pale in comparison.

    The second paragraph should have been the attention grabber and the focus but instead the first paragraph overshadows it and unnecessarily offends. Disappointing for the art you are trying to feature.

  6. True David, but Aboriginal art travels well. The best of it wouldnt look out of place in Tokyo, New York, London or Paris.

    The second sentence might be offensive and a little harsh but that’s only because its true.

    Name one Australian artist that has “really” made it internationally. Quite a few have tested the waters overseas but none have made it.

  7. I’m certainly no expert on Internationally acclaimed Australian artists but this Wiki article mentions quite a few that I would have thought were quite successful in several overseas markets:


    It really depends on how far back you want to look and what ‘making it’ internationally really means to you?

    Certainly we don’t have any real ‘media’ star artists like Damien Hirst but then few countries do.

    The second sentence is offensive because it implies that successful overseas artists are neither derivative and/or regional in their work – this simply isn’t true.

    Being derivative and/or regional is hardly a barrier to international success since most art is generally either one or the other or both.

  8. Name one ausie artist that really made it internationally…. how about the living legend that is… Rolf Harris… painter of the Queen, rock singer and didgery doo player exstordinaire…He’s the man who inspired a generation of Brits to show off their unmade beds, pickle sharks and grafiti anything that stood still with his imortal words…”can you tell what it is yet?”

  9. A very interesting article on Australian Aboriginal art begins
    “Meet Bessie, a rising star in Australia’s £150m per year Aboriginal art industry. Her paintings will set you back at least £4,000 each. Then why isn’t she rich? As Will Storr discovers during an eventful trek into the Outback, the answer is as mysterious as the paintings themselves…” ( I think I’ve added a link but if not it’s at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/4347282/Australian-Aboriginal-art.html ) Basically it desribes how aboriginal artists are churning out pics for dealers who instruct them to produce acording to what sells rather than any meaningful expression. In fact many of the aboriginal artists decline to produce their true art believing their sacred symbolism should not be shared with the white man and other outsiders.

    My advice to you is not to blow your cash at the auction but to buy a good secondhand pick up truck Fill it with larger and head off into the outback. Find a friendly fella and do a good swap. He or she gets the beer and you get a good (or at least less likely churned) painting (or maybe two or three)

    I believe the old “beer for pics swap” as it’s often known, is a widely recognised technique for aquiring art across the globe but please if trying this in Norfolk make sure you use only real British ales. Aussie larger only works on the London based BritArt crowd and you’d be better off drinking the beer than getting a load of their old crap!

  10. Thanks for your post!

    I have been unfamiliar with Aboriginal art and have enjoyed viewing the artwork you presented in this post.

    Also, thanks for including a link to the website for viewing more fascinating artwork!

  11. David, maybe I was a little offensive, but I’m still yet to see an Australian artist make it big worldwide. None on the Wikipedia page have. A few have tested the waters but they all come running back home before they make any impact outside of Australia.

    Earl, Rolf is an entertainer, he doesnt count. And he wouldnt make it in Paris, Tokyo or New York as a painter. Actually, I don’t think he would make it in Sydney or London as a painter either..lol.

    And yeah there’s a LOT of issues with Aboriginal paintings. I love them but I would never spend much money on them as there’s a lot of fakes out there. Provenance shouldnt be a problem as you can say your long lost uncle picked up the painting on an outback trip 20 years ago.. traded it for a carton of beer.. and bam, you have an original painting worth $50,000.

  12. How dare you be less than totally worshipful of the genius that goes by the name on Rolf! He’s nearly a saint in London – the BBC did a wonderful feature on his portrait of the Queen.. although perhaps on reflection it did resemble an aboriginal painting of the dream time… but it’s the thought that counts. As for your opinion that he couldn’t make it in Paris, New York, etc, can you be sure.. some say Banksy works quickly with a brush and tin of gloss, has a distinct aussie twang, and likes his beer cold… also perhaps wears a beard… could it be???

  13. This is a HIGHLY generalized and racist statement/post and its central theme should be more thoroughly research before making such comments.

  14. What has race got to do with anything on this post Karen? That’s as ridiculous as saying the post is offensive to women or pornographic.

    And there’s not much to think about as I’m just stating facts. European Australian artists are useless when they leave the comfort of their borders.

    Prove me wrong and give me the name of one Australian painter that has made any impact outside of Australia.

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