Bonhams stages single-artist Paddy Bedford auction - Art Collector

Paddy Bedford, Motor Car Yard, 2003. Estimate $150,000 - $180,000.

7 November 2011 | Paddy Bedford, who died in 2007, is the focus of an upcoming single-artist auction organised by Bonhams. Viewings have been held in London and New York prior to the auction in Sydney on 21 November 2011.

Single-artist auctions are unusual – one of the last being Damien Hirst’s
Beautiful Inside My Head Forever in 2008 – and a press statement from Bonhams claims this is the first time a single-artist Aboriginal art sale has been held anywhere.

The small auction comprises 26 works selected from the artist’s estate. “My friend William Mora recently showed me the through images of works held by the estate and I was bowled over by the quality,” says Tim Klingender, a senior consultant for Bonhams’ Aboriginal art department in Australia. “My immediate response was [that] these paintings need to be taken to the world's leading art markets.”

Klingender says many of the works in the auction have been exhibited in international museum shows and the recent Museum of Contemporary Art retrospectives. There are six gouaches and eight works on board along with larger works on canvas, which are attracting estimates of up to $180,000.

Bonhams’ decision to stage a single-artist auction is an interesting one given the current mood of the market. Sotheby’s Aboriginal art auction on 18 October sold only 56 per cent by value and 42 per cent by volume. Also in October, Deutscher and Hackett chose to replace its Aboriginal art auction with a two-week exhibition. Bonhams’ first Aboriginal art auction, held in June this year, was also lacklustre, selling only 47 per cent by volume.

Klingender’s explains his confidence in the new strategy by pointing to Bedford’s wide-ranging appeal. “Paddy Bedford is an artist who has great potential to succeed as an internationally collected artist and his work appeals to contemporary and modern art collectors at least, if not even more so, than just to Aboriginal art collectors.”

He adds: “The majority of people who viewed in London were not Aboriginal art collectors, rather modern and contemporary art collectors.”

Alongside the international previews, Bonhams is supporting the auction with an extensive international advertising campaign in
The Art Newspaper, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

“We in turn intend it [the Bedford sale] as a vehicle to launch us onto both the international and Australian scene as the leaders in the field. It is a long-term plan,” says Klingender.

Jane O'Sullivan

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