Hirst Collection

Clifton Pugh, Black horse and white horse, 1956, (A$25,000), from The Hirst Collection of Australian and International Art shows the complexity of the collection from sombre portraits to breathtaking depictions of fighting animals | Source: Philip Bacon Galleries

Brisbane Set to Host the Biggest International Art Sale in Decades

If you can see an artist’s soul in their body of work, you can definitely get a good idea of the lived experiences of a collector through their collection, The Hirst Collection of Australian and International Art shows us a compounded yet coruscating assembly of work, rare for an Australian Collection these days, rarer still in Brisbane.

Next month Philip Bacon Galleries will host the sale of the Collection, one of the most important collections of Australian and international art in the world.

Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Emanuel Phillips Fox, Clifton Pugh, Lloyd Rees and Brett Whiteley are just a few of the artists featured in the collection, with the majority of the paintings and sculptures never having been available for the public to buy.

Brett Whitely, Portrait, 1958 (A$18,500) from The Hirst Collection of Australian and International Art

The private collection features a very early piece by Brett Whitely, painted when he was just 19 years old, Portrait is classic Whitely, showing a depth of maturity far beyond his years and a sombre melancholy uncharacteristic of an Australian Artist in their youth.

Three works by Whitely were included in The Modern British and Irish Art auctions last week and he is considered overseas as one of Australia’s greatest artists.

Lloyd Rees’ Chartres Cathedral, 1967/69 (A$165,000) from The Hirst Collection of Australian and International Art

The collection sways from the vibrantly impactful light-effects of Lloyd Rees to the darker and more solemn and sometimes violent works of Clifton Pugh and Russel Drysdale to present some much-talked-about and relevant ideas through the lens of Jewish Holocaust survivors Paul and Friederike Hirst.

The couple emigrated to Brisbane from Vienna in 1938 after signing all of their possessions over to the Nazis in order to secure an exit visa and started their art collection in the 1960s, making trips to Melbourne and London to find some pieces while also buying art for their collection at Brian and Marjorie Johnstone’s gallery in Brisbane’s Bowen Hills.

Russell Drysdale, Tudawali Man, Melville Island, 1958, (A$285,000) from The Hirst Collection of Australian and International Art

Russell Drysdale’s Tudawali Man, Melville Island is the most expensive piece of art on offer at $285,000, a moody, brooding reminder of the sadness and beauty of Australia’s forgotten past.

Sculptures in the collection include Rodin’s sculpture of the head of Jean D’Aire a homage to the capture of the burgher of Calais by King Edward II to save his city from starvation during the hundred years war.

The Hirst’s collected for the love of art and money or appreciation in value was never the object, Geoffrey Hirst, Son of Paul and Friederike said of the collection, “There was never any thought about ‘this might appreciate,” or “that might appreciate,” and you could not really say that they have done that terribly well. I would not be investing in art if the money was the point of the exercise.”

The Hirst Collection exhibition and sale will run from the 5th to the 30th of April at Philip Bacon Galleries in Brisbane. 

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