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Booker•Lowe Gallery - Contemporary aboriginal fine art of Australia - Offers works by more than 100 Australian Aboriginal artists - Selected Past News and Views

Sourcing Your Australian Aboriginal Art

The last five years have generated extraordinary growth in the Aboriginal art market, with the number of galleries in Australia expanding exponentially (there are now more than 200!), exhibitions in Europe and Asia drawing record crowds, major auction houses increasing the number of sales, and more international galleries showing Aboriginal work. Concurrently, there has been a proliferation in websites offering Aboriginal art, on-line auctions, and dealer trunk shows.

With all these options available, how do you choose? We suggest you:

CONSIDER THE SOURCE: Most Aboriginal artists work through co-operatives, which are organized by Australian government agencies or by the artists themselves. The co-ops obtain art supplies, organize exhibitions and workshops, market the art, and ensure that the artists receive a fair price for their work. Many artists still live on traditional lands accessible only by light aircraft or 4-wheel drive vehicle. So, they depend on the co-op’s art coordinator to market their work, or they may occasionally visit the nearest town and paint for a dealer. Most dealers provide fair payment; sadly, however, there are those who push the artists to “mass produce,” or promise quick cash or illegal alcohol or drugs in exchange for paintings.

CONSIDER THE PRICE: Even Picassos sell in a wide range of prices! We’ve seen works by the same artist range from the stunning (and priced accordingly) to the mundane (also priced accordingly)! Generally, if a piece is offered at a significantly lower price than other work by the same artist, there is a reason, and frequently, it has to do with quality or authenticity. If you are a serious collector, study auction pricing, read books and articles and research the internet, and best of all, visit reputable galleries to get a feel for realistic pricing. Remember, that while the gallery may be able to work with you on pricing, don’t expect big discounts unless you are prepared to recognize that the seller has either underpaid the artist or overpriced the art initially.

CONSIDER THE SELLER: Find out how the sellers obtain the art, whether they provide certificates of authenticity, and whether they are associated with other reputable galleries, organizations or institutions. If the seller is strictly on-line, it’s more difficult. Try to find out how long they have been in business, what other collectors think of them, whether they are mentioned in art journals and other publications as a reputable source. For example, our gallery works closely with internationally-acclaimed Australian galleries and highly-respected dealers. We also buy art direct from artists’ cooperatives when we fly out to Aboriginal communities each year. We have coordinated several exhibitions with the Australian Embassy in Washington, and we are working with the University of Viriginia’s Kluge-Ruhe Institute of Aboriginal Art on organizing artists’ visits to the U.S.

In short, you may want to do your homework if you are investing in Aboriginal art. As with any investment, look for sources you can depend on to be there the next time you want to look, ask questions, or buy.

Terry Smith, ArtPapers, July/August 2005
“Aboriginal art is contemporary, and quite properly marketed as such, because these artists are creating Australia’s richest and most diverse art today.”



© Booker•Lowe Gallery 2014, 4623 Feagan Street, Houston, Texas 77007 USA
Tel: 713.880.1541 Fax: 713.862.8364

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