From The Aus­tralian, July 11, 2001

The Weekend Australian - Review - - LIFELINES -

IT topped the high­est price for an Abo­rig­i­nal paint­ing by about $300,000, and will cost the Na­tional Gallery of Aus­tralia $786,625 af­ter auc­tion­eer’s com­mis­sion and GST are added.

But Wally Caruana, the NGA’s cu­ra­tor of in­dige­nous art, said Rover Thomas’s 1991 paint­ing All That Big Rain Com­ing from Top

Side was well worth the buy. The gallery bought the work at Sotheby’s in­dige­nous art auc­tion in Mel­bourne on Mon­day, set­ting a new record for the sale of Abo­rig­i­nal art at auc­tion. ‘‘ It’s a lyri­cal paint­ing and un­usual in that it is a more lit­eral trans­la­tion of the land­scape,’’ Mr Caruana said. ‘‘ The tex­ture is quite dif­fer­ent — it has a real sense of move­ment to it. You can al­most feel the rain com­ing down over the rocks.’’

Sotheby’s direc­tor of in­dige­nous art, Tim Klin­gen­der, said the pur­chase sent a clear mes­sage that the Na­tional Gallery was in­ter­ested in spend­ing top dol­lar on Aus­tralian and overseas art. Its high-pro­file pur­chases of

re­cent years have been on in­ter­na­tional works, in­clud­ing its $4.6 mil­lion pur­chase of David Hock­ney’s A Big­ger Grand Canyon, and its $7.4m ac­qui­si­tion of Lu­cian Freud’s Af­ter


‘‘ It is ex­tra­or­di­nary that an Aus­tralian work only 10 years old would sell for this price,’’ Mr Klin­gen­der said. ‘‘ This is far more than the prices fetched by con­tem­po­rary non­indige­nous Aus­tralian artists and shows the enor­mous in­ter­est in in­dige­nous art.’’

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