Provenance

Pukatja (Ernabella) community

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Provenance is of utmost importance when determining the current and future value of an artwork. This is true of all sectors of the art market, and astute collectors routinely conduct thorough provenance checks before they buy.

Provenance proves the origin of a work and it should be traceable through the history of prior owners and dealers back to the artist/s and place of creation. Be aware that a work which lacks good provenance may prove difficult to resell. A falsified or fraudulent provenance can devalue or render worthless a work. Antiquities and old works may be more difficult to fully provenance, as records can be lost or destroyed over time. However, establishing the provenance of contemporary art – given its recent creation – should be straightforward. It is worth noting that the reputation of the art dealers will have a bearing on the quality of the provenance, and hence, the value of the work.

Aboriginal art may pose especial challenges in establishing full provenance. This is largely due to the rapid rise of the Aboriginal art market which has seen collectors and investors make high returns quickly. This in turn has led to the exploitation of artists by unscrupulous dealers keen to cash in on a growing and valuable market. Unscrupulous dealers do not always fully or accurately declare the attribution of works; the worst of them have engaged in fraudulent and/or abusive practises. There is a high probability that the artists are paid only a fraction of what the work sells for in city galleries.

Buyers are therefore advised to pay particular attention to the provenance of works offered for sale.

Impeccable provenance in Aboriginal art

By far the most reliable and trusted provenance is provided by the Aboriginal owned and operated art centres that work with reputable representative galleries. These art centres assign each a unique catalogue number which is recorded on the centre’s database, along with an image and the details of the work and artist/s.

The art centres issue their own “Certificate of Authenticity” which accompanies the work to the representative gallery. There is then no need for a gallery to issue its own certificate of authenticity, as the industry, including the public institutions, accepts the centre’s certificate as the official authentication of authorship. And there is certainly no need for photographs of the artist painting the work in question; this is widely considered to be one of the cheapest tricks in the book! Prominent artists have been known to distance themselves from “private studio” paintings that they have been photographed with, asserting that it is not their work.

If you are new to buying Aboriginal art, take some time to discover the Aboriginal owned and operated art centres around Australia and which galleries represent them. You will find this to be the most rewarding – and secure – path to building a valuable collection.

We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about provenance.

Selected Works

Niningka Lewis 168

Niningka Lewis
Ara irititja
, 2010
Acrylic on canvas
82.4 x 169 cm
Provenance: Ernabella Arts
Collection: Art Gallery of South Australia

Art code GZER/NL168 Request Information
Dickie Minyintiri 056-09

Dickie Minyintiri
Kapi tjukula, 2009
Acrylic on linen
154 x 182 cm
Provenance: Ernabella Arts
Collection: National Gallery of Australia

Art code GZER/DM056 Request Information
Maringka Baker 769

Maringka Baker
Kuru Ala, 2008
Acrylic on canvas
120 x 198 cm
Provenance: Tjungu Palya
Collection: Artbank

Art code GZTP/MB769 Request Information
Tjala Women's Collaboration 036

Tjala Women’s Collaborative
Wawiriya Burton, Kunmanara Williamson, Barbara Moore, Mary Pan, Nyurpaya Kaika, Naomi Kantjuriny, Iluwanti Ken, Mona Mitakiki, Tjungkara Ken, Sylvia Ken, Marinka Tunkin, Katanari Tjillya, Paniny Mick
Nganampa Ngura - Our Country, 2013
acrylic on linen
198 x 300 cm
Provenance: Tjala Arts
Collection: Private Collection, USA

Art code GZTJA/TWC036 Request Information
Barbara Mbitjana Moore 110

Barbara Mbitjana Moore
Ngayuku ngura - My Country, 2014
Acrylic on linen
197 x 198 cm
Provenance: Tjala Arts
Collection: Private Collection, Melbourne

Art code GZTJA/563110 Request Information
Bob Gibson 576

Bob Gibson
Patjana, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
90 x 90 cm
Provenance: Tjarlirli Art
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Art code GZTJR/316-576 Request Information
Iwana Ken 8456

Iwana Ken
Kamula tjuta, 2012
Woolen tapestry and acrylic on linen
62 x 92 cm
Provenance: Kaltjiti Arts
Collection: Art Gallery of South Australia

Art code GZKALIK/04138456 Request Information
Philip Gudthaykudthay 2687

Philip Gudthaykudthay
Garrtjambul, gandayala ga Yolngu (Red Kangaroos and Man), 2011
Acrylic on canvas
251 x 196 cm
Provenance: Bula'bula Arts
Collection: National Gallery of Australia

 

Art code GZBB/PG-2687 Request Information
Pungkai 0021

Kunmanara P. Bertani
Boddington = BT, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
197.5 x 220 cm
Provenance: Ceduna Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Centre
Collection: Art Gallery of South Australia

Art code GZCED/P0021 Request Information
Ray Ken 431

Ray Ken
Ngayuku ngura - My Country, 2012
Acrylic on linen
152.5 x 198 cm
Provenance: Tjala Arts
Collection: Private Collection, Adelaide

Art code GZTJA/RK431 Request Information
Ruby Tjangawa Williamson 389

Kunmanara Williamson
Ngayuku ngura - My Country, 2008
Acrylic on linen
152.5 x 122 cm
Provenance: Tjala Arts
Collection: Art Gallery of South Australia

Art code GZTJA/RW389 Request Information
Vincent Namatjira 86

Vincent Namatjira
James Cook - with the declaration, 2014
acrylic on canvas
101 x 76 cm
Provenance: Iwantja Arts
Collection: The British Museum, London

Art code GZIW/VN86 Request Information
Wawiriya Burton 011

Wawiriya Burton
Ngayuku ngura - My Country, 2009
Acrylic on linen
152.5 x 122 cm
Provenance: Tjala Arts
Collection: Art Gallery of South Australia

 

Art code GZTJA/WB011 Request Information
Beaver Lennon - Davenport Beach

Beaver Lennon
Davenport Beach Ceduna, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
97.5 x 146 cm
Provenance: Ceduna Aboriginal Arts & Cultural Centre
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Art code GZCED/BL1306 Request Information
Bernard Tjalkuri 028

Bernard Tjalkuri
Tjita Tjuta, 2012
Acrylic on linen
147 x 95 cm
Provenance: Tjungu Palya
Collection: Flinders University Collection, Department of Psychiatry

Art code GZTP/BT028 Request Information
Nyarapayi Giles 513

Nyarapayi Giles
Warmurrungu, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
179 x 148 cm
Provenance: Tjarlirli Art
Collection: Private Collection, Melbourne

Art code GZTJR/316-513 Request Information
Tjungkara Ken 19

Tjungkara Ken
Seven Sisters, 2014
acrylic on linen
197 x 198 cm
Provenance: Tjala Arts
Collection: Private Collection, London

Art code GZTJA/56019 Request Information
Vincent Namatjira 542

Vincent Namatjira
Albert Namatjira Dies in Hospital, Broken Heart, 2014
acrylic on canvas
76 x 101 cm
Provenance: Iwantja Arts
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Art code GZIW/VN542 Request Information
Jimmy Donegan - 126

Jimmy Donegan
The Pukara Rock Hole – Jimmy Donegan Story, 2016
acrylic on canvas
122 x 96 cm

Art code GZPA/JD-126 Request Information
Neville Macarthur

Neville Macarthur
Marlu Tjukurpa, 2011
acrylic on canvas
76.2 x 101.6 cm

Art code GZPT/NMac11 Request Information