Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Damn those evil whores at the art auction house! They've seduced me for the last time! Well, until their next auction, anyway.

I went to GFL's Decorators and Collectors auction last night. It's the clearing sale for all of the lesser works that they don't want to put in their main auction in November. It doesn't mean that the works aren't any good, but more that the artists are not big names, and thus not expected to yield high prices. I was pleased to find that there were many delightful works going for a song. And we're not talking fancy songs either. We're talking "Oops I Did It Again"-type songs.

Fool that I am, and easily swayed by low, low prices, I ended up buying three paintings.

Zsu Zsi Hartman

I was attracted by the diffuseness of this portrait; the fact that the subject is defined by what has been left out rather than what has been painted. It also has a nice sense of chaos in its use of materials - pencil, charcoal, pastels and oils. I read on the back that it was painted in 1978, and suddenly the whole picture - the bright green socks, the wicker chair, the wisps of orange hair and the kewpie-doll lipstick - all make more sense. She looks like some self-consciously zany sister-in-law from a Woody Allen comedy, circa 'Annie Hall'.

Vanessa Curry screenprint

It looks rather amteurish in this photograph, because you can't see the little imprefections in the screenprinting process that give it its texture and character. You also can't see the size - it's huge, and when you look at it from normal viewing distance all you can take in is an eye, or the nose, or the line of ochre on her neck. You don't so much view the face as explore it. I could barely fit it in my car, even with the roof lowered.

And if I decide I don't want it, I can always keep the frame and use it for something else. Frames that size are worth at least three or four times what I paid.

Janet Smith watercolour

Nobody else wanted this poor little watercolour, so I bought it. It's not the work of a master artist, but it does capture a feeling of rain in the sky. That might provide some much needed psychological relief in the middle of a parched Australian summer.

There were a lot of others I liked too, but I wasn't alone. One guy up the front, with a case of Asperger's Syndrome so pronounced that it nearly peeled the paint off the canvases, beat me to a couple of prize items. I didn't fight him too hard. It never pays to tangle with the mentally... unique.


Blogger MC Etcher said...

Very cool pics! The first is my favorite.

12:07 AM  
Blogger Toby said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Toby said...

I prefer the last. Looks like a good auction though

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...


I came accross your site doing a search for 'zsuzsi hartman' who happens to be my mother. Just out of pure curiosity, I'd be interested to know how much you paid for her piece. You can you let me know privately be emailing me at darren@... the website i listed.

10:29 AM  

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