One of my favorite artists recently broke his own sales record at a recent Sotheby’s auction in Australia. The four meter wide painting by Brett Whiteley sold for $2.04 million in Sydney lastnight.
It might be big and it might have the Brett Whiteley signature on it, but I think it’s a very poor painting by the man. “Frangipani and Hummingbird” has all the elements of a Whiteley, with the ultramarine blue, the flowers, and the bird, yet it still falls way short of his good stuff.
During his last ten years he seemed to produce some sickeningly commercial works that seemed to be giving collectors what they wanted. They wanted works that look like Brett Whiteley so that their friends and acquaintances would recognize the paintings.
Frangipani and Hummingbird is a painting for bragging about, not one for the art museum. A private collector from Melbourne can now say that he/she owns a big Brett Whiteley and the third most expensive Australian painting to be sold at auction, but I don’t think they could say they own a great Whiteley painting.
There was also another records for the night..
Size and controversy do matter in the art world
“CRAIG Ruddy installed himself as an artist capable of raising cash as well as controversy last night when his Archibald Prize-winning portrait of David Gulpilil sold for more than $300,000 in Sydney.
The charcoal portrait was the subject of a recent NSW Supreme Court case to determine whether it was a painting or a drawing, the court declining to make an artistic judgment but creating enough controversy to ensure a bigger sale price.
Sotheby’s head of Australian painting Geoff Cassidy said the controversy surrounding the painting helped its sale price, which was more than 30 times Ruddy’s previous record of $9600.” The Australian