Brett Whiteley

Portrait After a Haircut at 36

Deutscher and Hackett

Important Australian and International Art

15 July 2020

Lot 23

Brett Whiteley's mercurial genius is deeply woven within the cultural psyche of Sydney. His body of work spans an entire spectrum from elegant tropical birds and Matisse like interiors to the extreme visual distortions depicting drug addiction and worse. With the relentless mythology surrounding his life and unfortunate death, it's difficult to gain a sense of the real individual. Perhaps a near approximation is to be found in this pen and ink self shade where he's recognisable through a multitude of shifting expressions. Most interestingly, the centrally placed image is surrounded by an expansive white background referencing his practice of Zen Buddhism. This is visually engaging and works harmoniously with the subject's coppery halo of actual curls, collected presumably, after the haircut at 36.

Included in his national survey exhibition, Brett Whiteley: Art & Life, this modest yet powerful image holds its ground against the major works which command Australian and international attention. It would be no surprise for this to realise a sizeable premium on its modest auction estimate (Aus $20,000-30,000).

Price realised at auction: Aus $116,591 hammer price + BP

John Perceval     Boy Crying in a Carlton Street (1944)


Australian and International Fine Art and Sculpture

9 July 2020