Aboriginal Art Collection Goes on Sale at Bonhams

Emily Kam Kngawarray (Emily Kame Kngwarreye)(circa 1916-1996), 'My Alalgura', 1991, synthetic polymer paint on linen, diameter: 100.0cm. Estimate: US$ 7,400 - 11,000. Image courtesy of Bonhams

Emily Kam Kngawarray (Emily Kame Kngwarreye)(circa 1916-1996), ‘My Alalgura’, 1991,  synthetic polymer paint on linen, diameter: 100.0cm. Estimate: US$ 7,400 – 11,000. Image courtesy of Bonhams

ART AUCTION: Aboriginal Art from Thomas Vroom Collection on sale at Bonhams brings deeper insight to Aboriginal Art history

Jungle Jim Lamurautemirri (circa 1890-1974), Ceremonial Female Figure, 1965. Image courtesy of Bonhams

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA –  Aboriginal Art drawn from the Thomas Vroom Collection will be up for sale on September 6, 2015 at Bonhams. Tagged Aboriginal Art: The Thomas Vroom Collection, the auction will include works spanning more than 100 years of continuous collection of Aboriginal art. Recently repatriated, the collection was one of Europe’s largest, most valuable and significant collections of Aboriginal art.

One of the major highlights of the auction is a rare roundel Anooralya Yam by Emily Kgwarreye, Australia’s most celebrated indigenous artist. Valued at  AU$10,000 – 15,000, the piece is part of a group of works Vroom bought from Emily Kgwarreye in the 1990s. After discovering the works of the artist in the  early 1990s, Vroom drove  250km from Alice Springs to the artist’s community of Utopia, and Delmore Downs station in order to meet the artist. When he arrived, 30 paintings by Emily Kngwarreye dating from her earlier periods to large scale later works were on offer. Consisting of Aboriginal dot paintings and Aboriginal art symbols, the works revel the influence of Aboriginal culture on art. All these works will be offered  during the Bonhams  Aboriginal art sale.

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Emily Kngwarreye is just one of the female Aboriginal artists whose works are in the Thomas Vroom’s collection. A major supporter of women’s desert paintings, Thomas Vroom also collected works  by Kathleen Petyarre, Eubena Nampitjin, Queen Mackenzie, Ngoia Pollard and late Dorothy Napangati Robinson, whose works will feature prominently in this auction. Two of Napangati Robinson will highlight this Bonhams aboriginal art auction. The works were recently included in the artist’s retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and are illustrated in the accompanying catalog.

The Thomas Vroom Collection is the result of decades of  expansive Aboriginal art collection. Vroom  first encountered Australian Indigenous art in New York in 1991, and developed a passion for collecting Aboriginal art globally. That passion led to the acquisition of important historical works from groundbreaking auctions, even as he tracked down and directly acquired old collections.

An ardent collector with a discerning eye, Vroom  was fascinated by the entire spectrum of Aboriginal art that he was always on the lookout for great works. On numerous  trips  to remote regions and capital cities throughout Australia, Vroom not only collected traditional aboriginal art but  also contemporary works. Over the years, the collection has grown to include  early artifacts, bark paintings, ceremonial sculptures, as well as works from the genesis of the Western Desert and Kimberley painting movements.

This Bonhams auction will include important early collections of Aboriginal art including The Lance Bennett Collection of Western Arnhem Land and the Tiwi Islands. Formed in the 1960s, The Lance Bennett Collection includes rare paintings on bark depicting the sexual exploits of spirit figures. Similar to paintings found in the rock art of the region, these painting were despised by the missionaries, who discouraged and suppressed their production.

The missionaries very influential in the shaping of indigenous Aboriginal art. As the only outlet for artist’s production in the 1960s, the missionaries dictated artistic direction of indigenous Aboriginal art. In spite of  the condemnation and effort to stifle  creativity, however, artists continued to express their artistic visions. Bark paintings by Nadjombolmi, who is acknowledged as the greatest painter of rock art in the Kakadu region, shows the resilience of these women to nurture their own creativity.

The Thomas Vroom Collection  allows a clear insight into many aspects of aboriginal art. The collection which for over a decade formed the cornerstone of the Aboriginal Art Museum in Utrecht, The Netherlands, reveals  the growth of Aboriginal art.

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