From The Australian, July 11, 2001
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.’’