Important Paintings & Contemporary Art

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Webb's Important Paintings & Contemporary Art, Further Entries Now Invited.


  • Further entries now invited

    Webbs New Zealands Premier Auction House

    13 August 2013Important Paintings and Contemporary Art

  • Webbs New Zealands Premier Auction House

    Michael Smithers Portrait of Sarah is a peerless example of the artists distinctive and

    highly stylised painterly vision that allows him to transform seemingly mundane objects

    and ephemeral scenes from everyday life into venerable works of art. Throughout the 1970s

    much of Smithers work drew inspiration from his own domestic environment and this

    seminal body of work has come to be indelibly associated with the artist. Portrait of Sarah

    offers a self-portrait alongside a portrait of his young daughter in the garden and, like many

    of Smithers key pieces from this period, it effortlessly highlights the fact that some of the

    most significant and intimate familial instants occur during the outwardly banal tasks of

    daily life. Here, Smither captures a fleetingly personal moment and renders it universal by

    making it at once deeply tender and slightly humorous.

    Webbs winter catalogue of important paintings and contemporary art will present a strong survey of modernist New Zealand practice accented by key works by our most celebrated contemporary artists. In recent history, no other auction campaign has included such a formidable roster of early consignments. The unrivalled depth and quality of this offering echoes the ethos that first defined Peter Webb Galleries approach when it was established over 37 years ago. Webbs continued ability to break new ground in the modern and contemporary markets is the result of a contemporary tradition where expert knowledge is matched with a determination to achieve exceptional results for our vendors.

    To celebrate the quality of the offering and to contextualise the works, they were photographed in situ in a house designed by Peter Bartlett in 1968: a showcase of innovative 1960s architecture. Completing the tableau is 20th-century furniture thanks to Mr. Bigglesworthy.

    The modernist sector of the sale ranges from examples from the 1950s to major works from the 1980s. The early modernist works include a number of refined works by Charles Tole, one of the most accomplished Kauri paintings by Colin McCahon held in private hands and a rare portrait by McCahon dated 1959 (see page 6). The sale also includes refined examples of abstraction from the 1960s: Meta Grey No. 1, a corner painting by Milan Mrkusich dated 1969 (page 9), and a black-and-white koru composition by Gordon Walters from 1966 (page 12). Late modernist works include a superb painting from McCahons Jump series (page 5), a domestic painting, Portrait of Sarah, by Michael Smither (illustrated opposite) and a rare diptych from Hoteres series of banner paintings of the late-1970s entitled No Ordinary Sun (page 8).

    Contemporary New Zealand practice is extensively surveyed and, following Webbs continued dominance in the Hammond market, we present a further major painting by this artist. Zoomorphic Lounge (page 4) belongs to the artists highly acclaimed late-1990s period and features a palette dominated by emerald green and a composition populated with avian forms. Also consigned is a rare, major work, Kiddy Kiddy (page 13), from Shane Cottons celebrated and culturally significant 1990s period. A number of more recent works by acclaimed contemporary New Zealand artists such as Andrew McLeod, Liz Maw and Rohan Wealleans will also be included.

    Final entries to this sale event close on Friday 21 June. Please make contact with us for a no-obligation appraisal. Webbs well-referenced appraisal process will ensure that a decision to consign your cultural assets is made with confidence and clarity.

    Michael Smither

    A contemporary tradition for over thirty seven years...

    Michael SmitherPortrait of Sarah

    oil on boardsigned M.D.S and dated 74 lower right in brushpoint1,220mm x 1,220mmReference: Painted whilst the artist was resident at The Gables, New Plymouth. $150,000 - $200,000


  • Important Paintings and Contemporary Art


    Sophie Coupland E:

    M: 021 510 876Wellington

    Carey Young E:

    M: 021 368 348South Island Gillie Deans

    E: M: 027 226 9785


  • Webbs New Zealands Premier Auction House

    By volume:

    70% of the top 10 works

    By value:

    69% of the top 10 works

    The top 50 works:

    Of the 50 most valuable works by Bill Hammond sold at auction, Webbs has facilitated 68% of sales by value at $3.7 million. A total of $5.3 million constitutes the value transacted for the top 50 sales. With an average price across the 50 works of $120,885, Webbs result sits well above the industry norm. As well as holding the record price for Hammonds work at $330,000, we also achieved the two highest prices across the market in the past two years at $293,000 and $235,000. Continued demand for Hammonds work reflects his position as one of New Zealands most highly celebrated senior practitioners.

    Webbs market position for Bill Hammonds work.

    Bill HammondZoomorphic Lounge belongs to a series of Hammonds paintings,

    all created in the late 1990s, which further explored and expanded

    Hammonds distinctive visual style whilst, at the same time, exploring

    New Zealands history, both colonial and recent, and the significance

    of the land and animals to the concept of our national identity. This

    work is a striking menagerie of hybrid beings, shape-shifters and avian

    creatures which occupy a primordial, emerald environment. Hammonds

    distinctive visual language offers the viewer a narrative composed of

    metaphors, allegory and symbolism. The work employs a myriad of

    references, ranging from Renaissance painting, to Egyptian hieroglyphs,

    to pop culture and science fiction. Hammonds knowledge and use of the

    medium of paint is also striking, serving to create a richly textured world

    and a unique setting for the characters of the work.

    Bill Hammond Zoomorphic Lounge

    oil on canvassigned W.D. Hammond and dated 1999 and inscribed Zoomorphic Lounge in brushpoint upper edge2,000mm x 840mm$180,000 - $240,000

    Alvar Aalto Model 43 Lounger

    Maker: Artek | Finland, 1937A piece of design history. First shown at Paris Worlds Fair in 1936, this cutting-edge organic lounger cast ripples through the design world. Available at


    Top 10 works by volume

    Top 50 works by value

    Webbs percentage. Refer: Australian Art Sales Digest, Results for individual works inclusive of BP & GST

  • Important Paintings and Contemporary Art


  • Webbs New Zealands Premier Auction House

    Colin McCahon

    We marketed our first work by Colin McCahon in 1976. Since 1992 we have successfully sold more than 194 of the artists works with a total of $12 million in recorded sales. By value, this equates to 69% of this artists work ever sold at auction. Weve sold 80% of the top 10 prices on the New Zealand market, and hold 90% of the top results by value.

    Jump E16 is a powerful evocation of fledgling gannets flying for the first

    time. Invoking the form of a cliff face to frame the right-hand side of the

    picture, McCahon has constructed a bold and engaging composition.

    Reduced forms and compositional flatness shape a palpably tense

    tableau, one whose pithy title presents the viewer with a call to action:

    Jump. Jump E16 is also a metaphor: a reflection on the journey of the

    soul. The division between the upper section of the painting and the

    earthly realms of the landscape recalls Barnett Newmans spiritual zip

    paintings. The dotted line which fades across the canvas is, therefore,

    not simply a tracing of the physical trajectory of the gannets jump, but a

    metaphor for the souls journey from earth to heaven.

    Colin McCahon Jump E16

    acrylic on unstretched jute canvasinscribed C.McC 74 in brushpoint lower left, inscribed (E16) in brushpoint lower right930mm x 430mmReference: Colin McCahon database num-ber: cm001303$220,000 $280,000


  • Important Paintings and Contemporary Art

    Colin McCahonExecuted in a thick, confident line of black ink, Colin McCahons Untitled Portrait from

    1959 possesses a powerful and commanding presence. Beginning in 1938, McCahons

    interest in portraiture spanned more than 30 years. This is McCahon employing the

    basic principles of cubism but in a highly unique and idiosyncratic manner. Reduced

    to her bare, essential features, the sitter is transcribed through two mutually exclusive

    viewpoints; the nose is shown in side profile while the rest of her features, the outline

    of the face and the cascade of hair are all depicted from a frontal view. The strong,

    black ribbon that references the womans shoulders can be seen also as a horizon line

    that demarcates head from landscape. The triangular lines and solid circle could be

    seen as the neckline of a shirt with a button yet they are also highly evocative of the

    elemental forms that dominate McCahons waterfall paintings. Here, then, is a powerful

    visualisation of the connection that McCahon sought between the New Zealand people

    and a landscape that he saw with too few lovers.

    Colin McCahon Unttitled Portrait

    ink on papersigned McCahon and dated Nov16 1959 in brushpoint lower left760mm x 560mm $50,000 - $70,000


  • Webbs New Zealands Premier Auction House

    Spanning two hanging canvases, Ralph Hoteres No Ordinary Sun is home

    to the elegiac lyricism of the eponymous poem by the renowned Hone

    Tuwhare. It is one of the earliest paintings inspired by this particular poetic

    piece and No Ordinary Sun forms part of a significant body of collaborative

    work between artist and poet; it is among Hoteres most celebrated and

    coveted paintings. Here, dynamic, energised bands of dappled paint

    are firmly anchored between sections of text. As in all of Hoteres word-

    paintings, the weight and placement of text is carefully considered so that

    heavy, blocky, stencilled words are juxtaposed with the comparatively free-

    flowing handwritten text to create a harmonious compositional balance.

    Two faintly etched circles can just be seen hovering amongst the speckled

    sections of paint. The primordial form of the circle frequently appears in

    Hoteres work and encompasses a myriad of symbolic meaning, possibility

    and allegory. In this painting it is perhaps that to which the title refers; this

    is no ordinary sun, but one that has been forged under the influence of

    Tuwhare and the hand of Hotere

    Ralph HotereRalph Hotere No Ordinary Sun

    acrylic on two loose canvasessigned Ralph Hotere and dated Port Chalmers 79; inscribed in full with Hone Tuwhares poem No Ordinary Sun across the upper and lower sections of both works. 3,020mm x 980mm each$280,000 $350,000

    By volume:

    70% of the top 10 works

    By value:

    70% of the top 10 works

    The top 50 works:

    Webbs has transacted 60% of sales of Ralph Hoteres work by value; this amounts to $3.4 million of the $5.9 million that constitutes the total of the top 50 results for Hoteres practice at auction. We have maintained an industry-leading average of $119,785 per work and have achieved the two highest prices in the past six months at $189,000 and $224,000. With a highest sale of $315,000, our results reflect an ongoing dedication and engagement with the market at the highest level.

    Webbs market position for Ralph Hoteres work.

    G-Plan Housemaster Chair

    Maker: G-Plan Furniture | United Kingdom, 1970. A juxtaposition of plush upholstery against a sharp exoskeleton of teak and chrome combine to create a bold, outspoken statement. Available at


    Top 10 works by volume

    Top 50 works by value

    Webbs percentage. Refer: Australian Art Sales Digest, Results for individual works inclusive of BP & GST

  • 8

  • Webbs New Zealands Premier Auction House

    The present work brilliantly manifests the essence and modernist

    genius of New Zealands master of abstraction, Milan Mrkusich.

    Mrkusich has herein synthesised the monochromatic grey of his canvas

    with abstract, geometric form, constructing a composition whose power

    lies in its timeless, spaceless resonance. The curvilinear motif of a

    squared circle was central to many of Mrkusichs paintings throughout

    the 1970s. Though commonly referred to as corner paintings, these

    works do not derive their gravitas from the break in form at the corners

    of the composition, but rather by virtue of the fact that, in emulating

    a photographic corner mount, they frame, define and give focus to the

    viewers exploration of Mrkusichs monochromatic expression. The

    present work, a strong and adroit manipulation of form and colour, also

    recalls his Bauhausian influence and architectural formation.

    Milan Mrkusich Meta Grey No. 1

    acrylic on canvasinscribed Mrkusich, Painting, Meta Grey No. 1 1969 in stencilled paint, signed Mrkusich and dated 69 in graphite verso715mm x 715mm$25,000 $35,000

    Milan Mrkusich


  • Important Paintings and Contemporary Art

    Allen MaddoxThe elemental cross or X has come to be widely recognised as a

    hallmark sign of Allen Maddox who spent almost 30 years painting

    lattices, grids and crosses. They are always and never the same as each

    painting presents a unique and matchless journey across a painterly

    wilderness that is fashioned from a dynamic and diverse flurry of marks,

    daubs, splatters, drips and swirls of paint. This painting, like much of

    Maddoxs best work, precariously teeters on the edge of painterly chaos

    but it never descends. Instead, we are presented with a finely metered

    balance due to the rigorous use of geometric order and recognisable

    forms. The X that marches across this work and much of Maddoxs

    oeuvre is a time-honoured sign that is redolent of love, kisses, negation

    and treasure. While potently symbolic, the intrinsically gestural quality

    of Maddoxs work allows each piece to operate on a purely aesthetic level

    that is just as enchanting as is its reticent narrative.

    Allen Maddox Untitled

    oil on canvas, diptych signed AM and dated 92 in brushpoint verso1,840mm x 920mm (overall)$35,000 $45,000


  • New Zealands Premier Auction HouseWebbs

    Ralph HotereTowards Aramoana is a visual poem, imbued with a deep sense of spirituality and

    rebellion. The work was motivated by Hoteres personal conviction to preserve

    Aramoanas pathway to the sea and it offers comment on both the impact of human

    habitation on the natural environment and the power structures that govern

    interpersonal relationships.

    The recycled villa sash window frame is an iconic feature of much of Hoteres

    practice of the 1980s and the windows obscured visibility is intended to critique

    the traditional function of a window. Hotere uses this recurrent shape to defy

    preconceived notions of openness and utility. Rather than present an idyllic

    landscape, the artist confronts the viewer with an opportunity for contemplation

    and reflection. The artists visceral markings, layered atop subtle fields of colour,

    explore the power of the human gesture and its ability to communicate with an



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