Centum at Leonard Joel – Sponsored by Kay & Burton8th July 2021
Latin for the number 100, Centum at Leonard Joel has become a unique event in the auctioneer’s calendar. Only in its second year, Centum brings together predominantly the work of 100 living contemporary Australian artists in the one auction. A who’s who of the art world, the walls at Leonard Joel have showcased the work of artists such as David Noonan, Jan Senbergs, Peter Booth, Mike Parr, Howard Arkley, Patricia Piccinini, and Jenny Watson, just to name a handful. Many of these artists not only have the following Down Under but have established reputations worldwide.
These works from the secondary market – from dealers, collectors and corporates – were launched at the Malvern Road headquarters on 24 June, “As with Kay & Burton, operating since 1938, Leonard Joel is one of the oldest auction houses in Australia, going back generations. The idea of this exhibition is one of our many collaborations,” says Ross Savas, Managing Director of Kay & Burton. For Leonard Joel’s owner, John Albrecht, who is at the helm of the company, which was established in 1919, he’s proud to be the first to celebrate living contemporary artists of this standing. “Many of these artists are now highly collected in galleries, not just in Australia, but overseas. Centum is only in its second year, but it is now an annual event,” says Albrecht.
Some of the artists, such as Howard Arkley, are household names. His paint on paperwork, Untitled (Poles), from 1976 would have been completed at the height of his career. And although not a major work by Arkley, his signature alone now comes with a significant price tag. A painting by David Noonan, ‘Untitled’ and produced in 2005, is from the artist’s earlier career, with his profile now considerably elevated, both in London where he now resides and in Australia where he has had numerous exhibitions including at the Ian Potter Centre.
Curated by Leonard Joel’s Olivia Fuller, Head of Art, Centum represents highly respected living contemporary artists, wherever they are based in the world. “Sadly, a few of the artists have passed away,” says Fuller, pointing out a photograph taken by the late Polixeni Papapetrou, whose work, titled Indian Brave, from 2002, depicts a young bare-chested boy wearing an Indian headdress and a mask. Another photographer, Pat Brassington, whose work Dress Hang is from the same year, offers an intimate reflection of the subject of the body. “Papapetrou’s work is an important part of the contemporary art scene even though she is no longer with us. Her work will continue to be discussed and is an important part of the current art scene,” says Fuller.
While collectors and art buffs attended the launch of Centum, there were also artists in the mix. Sankar Nadeson, who was invited to Centum at the last moment by a friend, is based in London but is currently creating a major sculptural installation in Melbourne. “My work involves looking at fine art, particularly from the past, but obviously taking the work forward,” says Nadeson, who is drawn to glass artists such as Lalique and the mascots they produced during his time. “I’m always looking at the past, but you can see from this gathering, people love to look at great contemporary art,” he adds.
The Auction held on Monday, June 28, 2021, was a great success with three impressive new auction records set.
Lot 20 Robert Hunter
Sold for $50,000 IBP (est. $20,000-25,000)
*New record price for the artist at auction*
Lot 29 Nicholas Harding
Sold for $37,500 IBP (est. $22,000-28,000)
*Equal record price for the artist at auction*
Lot 12 Rone
Sold for $28,750 IBP (est. $10,000-15,000)
*Record price for the artist at auction*