McCahon's Kauri painting sells for $352,000

Last updated 20:13 27/03/2014

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A work by one of New Zealand’s greatest painters has been sold for more than $350,000 at auction tonight.

Colin McCahon’s painting entitled Kauri Trees, Titirangi went under the hammer at Webb’s in Auckland where four bidders tried to outlast each other.

The final price was $352,000, which with premiums would be pushed up to $412,720.

According to Webb’s, the successful bidder was “a private Auckland collector” who was there bidding in person.

The work is from the artist’s celebrated Kauri series and is recognised by collectors, leading curators and specialists as the finest work from this period to have ever been offered at auction.

The eventual cost exceeded the pre-auction estimate of $270,000 - $340,000, making it the highest price paid for a McCahon work in three years.

Since the 1970s, more artworks by the acclaimed, Timaru-born artist have been sold on the New Zealand secondary market than by any other New Zealand artist, with over 300 recorded auction-based sales of paintings and works on paper, totalling in excess of $19 million. 

McCahon’s work was highly important as it was relevant to the formation of New Zealand’s cultural identity, Webb’s said.

According to critics, the Kauri paintings appraised mankind’s relationship with the New Zealand landscape and viewed landscapes which held a spiritual reverence, and the cubist treatment of this work saw him shift to new territories all on his own, influenced by the splendour of a native Kauri forest. 

“The appeal of this work is broad as it has the x-factor of an unquestionable modernist masterpiece as well being a highly accomplished and aesthetic painting,” auctioneer Charles Ninow said.


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