A painting by the Australian artist John Brack sold at auction for a record price this week, making “The Old Time” the most expensive Australian painting. The painting of a ballroom dancing couple sold for about $3.3 million dollars.
When compared to the prices paid for international artists, $3.3 million sounds like a laughable amount. But very few Australian artists ever make much of an impact on the world market, so it’s an impressive price for such a small market (Australia has about 20 million people).
To be honest, I think it’s an ugly painting and wouldn’t like it hanging in my house. John Brack held the previous record of the most expensive Australian painting with “The Bar”, which is a much better painting in my opinion. But being the most expensive painting does not mean that it is the best painting. It just means that somebody (with cash to burn) really wanted the painting on the day.
The painting that was meant to make a record at the Sotheby’s auction in Sydney this week sold for $2.8 million. Brett Whiteley’s big ugly “Opera House” was a gift to the QANTAS airline in exchange for free travel. It was a record price for the artist, beating the previous $2.04 million that another ugly Whiteley painting made in 2006. He is one of my favorite Australian artists, but he also produced a lot of crap that should have never made it out of his studio.