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Top Australian Art Sold From 2010 to 2011

Australia is an interesting country and can seem very far removed from other Western cultures. It is a commonwealth country but with a spot deep in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is both familiar to “Westerners” yet somehow still out of reach.

Surely, Aussies themselves feel this intense separation proving that even though we are more and more connected online, geographical distance is still a factor for things of the heart and soul.

That’s where art comes in and over the last few years, there have only been and handful of paintings that have come out of the land down under and sold for over $1 million. Even less make it to the huge sellers like Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Still, this doesn’t mean that Australia doesn’t have their fair share of talented artists and breathtaking artwork.

Here, we’re checking out the top Australian art sold in 2010 and 2011 with more information about our favorites.

Top Australian Art Sold in 2011

Washing the Salt off 1, Brett Whiteley, 1985 – A$1.86 million
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Washing the Salt off 1, Brett Whiteley, 1985 – A$1.86 million

As the first in his series of sunbathers washing off a day at the beach, this piece is brilliantly familiar with a touch of abstraction. Clearly fascinated with the female body, Australian icon Whiteley captures the shapes and curves of a carefree Aussie woman in a quintessential Aussie state – at the beach.

Country Child, George Russell Drysdale, c. 1948 – A$1,322,727
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Country Child, George Russell Drysdale, c. 1948 – A$1,322,727
Hillside I, Fred Williams, 1965 – A$1,281,000
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Hillside I, Fred Williams, 1965 – A$1,281,000

Williams painted many hillsides and they’re all abstract in their own ways. It’s his interpretation of a classic Australian landscape and in 2011, it sold for one of the highest prices an Australian artwork saw all year.

The Frightened Bridegroom, Arthur Boyd, 1958 – A$1.2 million
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The Frightened Bridegroom, Arthur Boyd, 1958 – A$1.2 million

Boyd’s bride series which included this piece are surreal, haunting, and have a somewhat magical appeal. The director of the National Gallery of Australia deemed the series to be a great expression of a conscience by an Australian artist since the series represents an Aboriginal person of mixed decent as a neglected outsider yet we feel the artist is deeply sympathetic to his predicament.

Gran, George Russell Drysdale, 1971 – A$1,176,000
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Gran, George Russell Drysdale, 1971 – A$1,176,000
Autobahn in the Black Forest II, Jeffrey Smart, 1979-80 – A$1.02 million
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Autobahn in the Black Forest II, Jeffrey Smart, 1979-80 – A$1.02 million

Smart’s depiction of “splendid minimalism” is evident here using traffic signs to give viewers a visual “feast of diagonals.” This painting is so interesting because of its simplicity and it begs the idea that even the most mundane things in our lives can be art.

The way he positioned these everyday objects though are what make this painting extra special. But tweaking them ever so slightly, repeating the image over and over, and making the colors so vibrant, it takes on an abstract, almost surreal nature like the images are moving while also being perfectly still.

Top Australian Art Sold in 2010

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First-Class Marksman, Sidney Nolan, 1946 – A$5.4 million

Nolan was known for his Ned Kelly series which depicted the infamous Aussie outlaw. The variety of paintings take you all throughout the Australian bush using surrealist and abstract techniques that have garnered him major acclaim all of the world.

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Little Orange (Sunset), Brett Whiteley, 1974 – A$1.38 million
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Little Orange (Sunset), Brett Whiteley, 1974 – A$1.38 million
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Warrego Jim, George Russel Drysdale, c. 1964 – A$1.26 million
Hillside at Lysterfield II, Fred Williams, 1967 – A$1.2 million
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Hillside at Lysterfield II, Fred Williams, 1967 – A$1.2 million

Here is another one of Williams’ Hillside paintings that made their mark in auction. Similarly, abstract and yet easy on the eyes makes this series a favorite among Aussie buyers and art lovers.

The takeaway here should be the understanding that Australia is still very much a child in terms of the Western world. Having such a tumultuous and recent history in terms of modernity, it’s just now beginning to see doors opening for artists.

Interestingly, Australia is the oldest known land in other ways as it is recorded that homo sapiens made Australia its home before any other. The Aboriginals have been on the continent for many centuries and have made recognizable and undeniably gorgeous works of art. Still, they’re not commonly recognized in the art shows and auctions that we in the art world deem “worthy.”

Hopefully, these prejudices will soon subside as they definitely affect artists everywhere. After all, art is subjective and understanding the value of art is based on many different factors that don’t always rely on merit.

Want to learn more about art from another country? Let us know!

Nymphs abduction, Relief, Echelos and Basile, Amphiglyhpon, Museum
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My Armchair, Brett Whiteley, 1976 – A$3,927,270
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Top Australian Art Sold From 2012 to 2013