Sotheby’s, Modern and Contemporary, Sydney, March 2005, lot 60;
Company collection, Sydney;
Deutscher Hackett, Important Australian and International Fine Art, Sydney, April 2019, lot 55;
Private collection, Sydney
“Yvonne Audette holds a unique position in twentieth century Australian art as one of the few female artists of her generation to have maintained a long and successful career working in an abstract mode. She left Australia to further her studies in late 1952, however unlike most of her peers, headed to New York, influenced by her American-born parents’ agreement to provide financial support if she went there rather than to Europe. While her training had been traditionally academic, with an emphasis on the figure, Audette’s first-hand exposure to the work of artists including Willem de Kooning (whose studio she visited in 1953), Robert Motherwell and Mark Tobey brought her face to face with the burgeoning New York School of Abstract Expressionist painting and she began to move confidently towards abstraction, developing a unique visual language that merged a lyrical use of colour with dextrous mark-making and the textural layering of line and abstract form.
After travelling in Europe, Audette settled in Florence, establishing a studio there in 1955. Against the backdrop of Italy’s rich culture and artistic past, she was welcomed into a community of professional artists (including Arnaldo Pomodoro and Lucio Fontana), who encouraged her and provided an aspirational example. Focussed and determined, Audette worked hard, holding commercial exhibitions in Florence, Milan, Paris, Rome and London.
While Audette’s work was rarely seen in Australia during her expatriate years, it has since been recognised for its important contribution to the history of twentieth century art in this country. Acquisitions by major public galleries were followed by a series of institutional exhibitions – Queensland Art Gallery (1999), Heide Museum of Modern Art (2000), National Gallery of Victoria (2008), Ian Potter Museum of Art (2009) and the Art Gallery of Ballarat (2016) – and the publication of a major monograph in 2003.
Audette was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the June 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for significant service to the visual arts as an abstract painter.”
– Kirsty Grant for Deutscher and Hackett, April 2019
Private collection, Peru;
Sotheby’s, Important Australian Art, Sydney, 09/04/2019, Lot No. 79;
Private collection, Australia
Reflections by Charles Blackman, The Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane, 14-31
August 1966, no. 5
The Road, a dreamlike and lyrical painting by Charles Blackman was created in 1966 upon the artist’s return to Australia from London. During his time in Europe, Blackman had mingled and worked with other expatriate Australian artists including Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams.
The 1960s saw the rise of abstract expressionism and with it, a vehement rejection by its major exponents of more figurative artistic practices. This in turn was a major factor in the formation of the Antipodean group, founded by academic and historian Bernard Smith. This movement reacted against the perceived emergence of a “fanatical devotion to the principles of abstract art and a rising intolerance of figurative painting,”1 that had taken hold of Sydney’s art scene. Their manifesto asserted their right to draw inspiration from life, nature and their surroundings, central to which was the importance of recognisable imagery, stressing too the importance of artistic diversity.
Like many of Blackman’s paintings, The Road is notable for its balance of simplicity and richness inviting reflection and contemplation.
1. Bernard Smith, Australian Painting 1788 – 1970, Melbourne, Oxford
University Press, 1971, p. 326
Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart – Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde, Bendigo Art Gallery, 20 March – 26 July 2020; Innovative Australian Women, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 25 March – 31 July 2020; Lauraine Diggins Fine Art Collectors’ Exhibition 2017, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 3 June – 29 July 2017; Australian Women Artists: Between the Wars, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 3 March – 25 April 2015
Bessie Davidson is known for her paintings of still lifes, interiors, portraits and landscapes, all of which are imbued with beautiful light, tone and colour. After settling in Paris, the artist’s adopted home from 1910 onward, Davidson’s exceptional talents were recognised both there and abroad when in 1931 she was appointed the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for Art and Humanity by the French Government. Her work was included in the exhibition Australian Impressionists in France, National Gallery of Victoria, 2013, and she was the subject of a book, A Studio in Montparnasse: Bessie Davidson: An Australian Artist in Paris (Penelope Little, Craftsman House, 2003).
Davidson’s continuing interest in light, atmosphere and colour is perhaps most evident in her still-life paintings. The present work, Still Life with Bowl of Fruit, makes clever use of horizontal and vertical lines to focus the viewer’s eye, leading it around the picture plane. Davidson made particularly strong connections during her time in Paris, forming a large group of friends and becoming godmother to the daughter of Conrad Kickert, an artist, critic, collector and the original owner of this painting.
signed ‘Pivoines Blanche, Bessie Gibson, 8 bis rue Campagne’ verso
47 x 39cm
Collection of the artist;
Thence by descent
This exquisite and charming still life, Pivoines Blanche, was painted by Bessie Gibson when she was residing in an artists’ colony in Montparnasse, France. From 1910 to 1939, during Gibson’s stay at the colony, she exhibited paintings at the Société des Artistes Français and the Salon d’Automnes. During this time, she won an honourable mention from the former in 1924 and a bronze medal at the International Exposition for Miniatures in 1937. It wasn’t until 1949 that Gibson returned to her home in Queensland, bringing with her the contents of her European studio in which this exquisite still life would have originally been created.
Wynne Prize Finalist Award, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2001
Ildiko Kovacs’ magnificent painting entitled Escarpment was a finalist in the Wynne Prize in 2001. This fine example of her early work reveals a strong sculptural presence and vibrates with rich energy and passion. Ildiko’s work demonstrates a masterful grasp of paint’s materiality, with a bold and direct application of line and colour. She has a dazzling ability to sculpt line as if it were a three-dimensional form rendered flat. A number of these earlier and pivotal works open a dialogue between western traditions of abstraction and indigenous art.
Works by Ildiko Kovacs are held in National Gallery of Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Newcastle Regional Art Gallery; Allen Arthur Robinson Collection; Artbank; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery; Campbelltown City Arts Centre; Gold Coast City Art Gallery; Hamilton Art Gallery, Victoria; Macquarie Bank; Maitland Regional Art Gallery; National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; Riddoch Art Institute; World Bank, Washington DC, USA; Visy Corp, Melbourne; Various private collections
Berlin-based Canadian artist Beth Letain engages with the history of colour and abstraction. While her works feel minimalist compositionally, they are vivid withstrong colour painted on white canvas. Letain’s geometric structures are harmonious and rhythmic, referencing Agnes Martin, Mary Heilmann and the Bauhaustheories of colour. This work is of magnificent scale with lashings of oil and rich pigment, so characteristic of the artist’s style. Her works are simple and enduring
Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Los Angeles, US, 25-28 January, 2018
Berlin-based Canadian artist Beth Letain engages with the history of colour and abstraction. While her works feel minimalist compositionally, they are vivid with strong colour painted on white canvas. Letain’s geometric structures are harmonious and rhythmic, referencing Agnes Martin, Mary Heilmann and the Bauhaus theories of colour. This work is of magnificent scale with lashings of oil and rich pigment, so characteristic of the artist’s style. Her works are simple and enduring.
Private collection, Australia;
Bridget McDonnell Gallery, Melbourne (label attached verso);
Sotheby’s, New York, 31 October 1984, lot 143;
Severn Family Foundation Collection;
Bonhams, Important Australian Art, 24 August 2021, lot 71;
Private collection, Sydney
Dr Karen Helms, Christopher Day Gallery, Paddington;
The Estate of the Late Peter Morris, Sydney;
Private collection, Sydney
Autumn Exhibition 1989, Christopher Day Gallery, Paddington, Cat. No. 4
Born in Armidale, NSW in 1879, Thea Proctor was one of the best-known Australian women painters of her time. Studying in both Sydney and London, Proctor exhibited painted fans, inspired largely by the works of Charles Conder, at the 1907 Women’s Work exhibition in Venice. Upon her return to Australia she helped form The Contemporary Group with G.W. Lambert in order to encourage younger avant-garde painters. Her beautiful pictures underpinned Sydney Modernism throughout the 1920s, and in her later life she did a great deal to bring attention to the work of her cousin, John Peter Russell.
David Rankin, Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne, 1972; Charles Nodrum Gallery, 2011; Private Collection,Melbourne
Note: the ‘Gibbon’ is Gibbon’s Beach, Bundeena, south of Port Hacking, where the artist stayed in the early 1970s.
David Rankin is a New York based Australian artist. Born in Plymouth, England in 1946, he emigrated to Australia in 1948. Interested in the merging of western, eastern and indigenous art, Rankin sees the role of Australian artists as one of authentically and truthfully absorbing those nearby cultures and spiritual beliefs, and integrating these elements into individual works. Throughout the past thirty years, Rankin has held over 100 one-person exhibitions worldwide; he is represented in many of the world’s leading collections and museums.
Equine Impedimenta (Tully’s Baggage) is an exquisite sculpture of a horse with an assortment of artist’s paraphernalia strapped to its mount. Inspired by the artist’s fascination with horses and the history of our human relationship with them Tim Storrier states, “Horses are beautiful creatures. Their partnership with us is ancient and although not without coercion it has been a wonderfully productive relationship” (Bowral, 2020). Having done numerous studies, drawings and paintings of horses and having collaborated with a master sculptor, Liao Shengxiang, Storrier was inspired to create these bronze maquettes that stand as tributes to these beautiful creatures.
1949 Born, Sydney
1967–69 Studied at the National Art School, Sydney
2020 Currently lives and works in Bowral, NSW
Awards and Commissions
2017 Awarded Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, Sydney
2017 Awarded a Fellowship of the National Art School, Sydney
2014 The Packing Room Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
2012 Awarded the Archibald Prize Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
for The Histrionic Wayfarer (after Bosch)
1994 Awarded the AM in the Australia Day Honours for services to
contemporary Australian art
1990 BHP Commission for International Iron and Steel Institute Conference
1984 Awarded the Sulman Prize
1978 Awarded R. M. Ansett Hamilton Art Award
1968 Awarded the Sulman Prize
1967 Awarded Sakura Colour Products Prize
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia,
Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South
Wales, Sydney; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Art Gallery of Western
Australia, Perth; Australian National University, Canberra; Deakin University,
Geelong; City of Hamilton Art Gallery, Victoria; Western Australian Institute
of Technology, Perth; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW; New England
Regional Art Museum, NSW; City of Rockhampton Art Gallery, Queensland;
Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Wollongong
City Gallery, NSW; Bar Association of New South Wales, Sydney; The
Australian Print Collection, Wagga Wagga; Regional Art Gallery, NSW