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Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Summer Celebration, 1991. Photo: Sotheby's.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Summer Celebration, 1991. Photo: Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s to Hold First Major Aboriginal Art Auction in the US

Sotheby’s has announced that it is moving its annual Aboriginal Art Auction from London to New York. The inaugural New York sale will take place this November, marking the first time that aboriginal art has been offered by an international auction house in the United States. The sales will be led by Tim Klingender, who has overseen all of Sotheby’s Aboriginal Art Auctions since they began in 1996; they have previously been held in Australia, from 1997 to 2009, and London, from 2015 to 2018.

“Australian Indigenous Art has always been of global interest, with buyers in recent London sales bidding from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North and South America, and Australia,” Klingender said. “It has been my ambition for many years to conduct these sales in New York and 2019 marks thirty years since the landmark traveling exhibition ‘Dreamings—The Art of Aboriginal Australia’ at the Asia Society galleries introduced the city to this dynamic art movement. Since then, interest in the field has grown continuously, and it is now collected in depth by many of the world’s leading museums and private collectors.”

Among the works that will be included in the sale are two canvases by Emily Kame Kngwarreye (ca. 1910–1996)—Summer Celebration, 1991, and Untitled 1990. Kngwarreye was a senior elder of the Anmatyerre community and resident at Utopia in the Northern Territory, a former cattle station reclaimed by its Indigenous Australian owners in 1979. In 1977, Kngwarreye began creating paintings on fabric in the batik technique; twenty years later, she represented Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale. Her work can be found in many major institutions in Australia, as well as in the collections of the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, the Sehwa Museum of Art in South Korea, and the Vatican Collection in Rome.