Marketplace

Buy collectable artworks backed by comprehensive market information and impeccable provenance

Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri

20 Career Overall Rank

- 2016 Market Rank

  • Born: 1935 - 1987
  • Active: 1970

  • Region: Western Desert, NT
  • Community: Kintore, Papunya
  • Outstation: Clutterbuck Hills
  • Language: Ngaatjatjarra, Pintupi

National Library of Australia

Until the 24th of July 2007 Tommy Lowry's auction results had him languishing well behind his contemporaries amongst the early Papunya painters. The repeated failure of two 1972 boards, both of which deserved a better fate, was clearly out of sync with market results for other artists who had worked with Geoff Bardon.

Old Man's Story, a work from the 44th consignment to the Stuart Art Centre had been offered at Sotheby's with a presale estimate of $20,000 - 30,000 in July 2005 and later with a reduced estimate of just $10,000-15,000 four years later yet failed to attract a buyer on both occasions. This had been a similar result to that of Women's Dreaming 1972, a lovely iconic early board that first failed when offered at Christie's in 1998  carrying an estimate of $10,000-12,000 and passed in again eight years later carrying Sotheby's estimate of $40,000-60,000. Nevertheless, this greatly increased valuation reflected a reassessment of the market value of the artists works by Sotheby's. The following year they placed a whopping  $400,000-600,000 estimate on his monumental painting that had impeccable provenance. When Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya 1984 sold for $576,000 at Sotheby’s in 2007 (Lot 51) this result alone propelled Lowry from relative market obscurity to a place within the top 20 of the AIAM top 100.The work had featured in the Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2000 and attracted bidding from a private New York based collector, rather than Australian public institution.

The price achieved was among the top ten results ever achieved for an Indigenous artwork and was more than ten times the artist's previous market record, set in 1998 for a comparatively generic Tingari work entitled Ngalyukuntinya 1985 which sold for $23,000.  In  June 2008 Joel Fine Art sold another late career work by Lowry entitled Tingari at Tarkulnga 1987 measuring 160 x 214 cm for $32,940 against a presale estimate of $15,000-$20,000 thereby relegating the previous second highest result to third. Nevertheless, the appearance of works by this artist at auction are extremely rare. The last appeared in 2011 and even to this day only 18 have been offered for sale.

Tommy Lowry was an artist capabale of greatness who painted a relatively small number of spare iconic boards in the early 1970s and many fairly generic Pintupi men's paintings toward the end of his life in the late 1980s. His success rate at auction is a respectable 78%, and following the renown he has achieved for his top selling painting, it is unlikely that works will appear again in the future without arousing intense collector interest.

Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri - Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya, 1984

Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya, 1984
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 24/07/2007 for $576,000.00
Size: 121.5 x 183 cm

Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri - Dingo Dreaming at Wandurankuntjana 1986

Dingo Dreaming at Wandurankuntjana 1986
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 24/07/2007 for $18,000.00
Size: 182 x 91 cm

Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri - Eagle Dreaming at Kuluntjarrana 1986

Eagle Dreaming at Kuluntjarrana 1986
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 17/06/1996 for $8,050.00
Size: 140 x 120 cm

Lowry was one of the foundation members of the Papunya Tula painting group to work with Geoffrey Bardon. He does not, however, appear as a profiled artist amongst those discussed in the ‘lives of the artist’ chapter in Bardon’s seminal book Papunya: A Place Made after a Story. Vivien Johnson  speculated in her book 'The lives of Papunya Tula Atists' (2008: 115) that this may be due to the fact that 'Tommy No. 4 (Tjtjuwinya) Tjapaltjarri, whom Geoffrey Bardon described as a young man that occasionally painted with the group, was the same man as Tommy Lowry.'

Johnson herself pays Lowry more attention, perhaps due to the stellar sale of Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya 1984 for $576,000 at auction during the year immediately preceding her important publication. Tommy came from Patjarr country in the Clutterbuck Hills. He was connected, in a rather intricate web  to a number of other Papunya artists, including his older brother, Dr George and wife Carol Nampitjinpa, who began painting for Papunya in 2002.  His early paintings feature classic Tingari iconography in earthy ochre tones such as Untitled - Ceremonial Design 1971. However his major works at auction were created late in his life, during the period before he passed away in the late 1980’s.

His most acclaimed work Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya 1984 has become emblematic since its inclusion in the groundbreaking 1988 exhibition  Dreamings, The art of Aboriginal Australia, curated by the South Australian Museum for  the Asia Society in New York. The exhibition subsequently toured venues through the United States and Australia. The painting relates to a creation story associated with country south west of Kintore. Two traditional healers (ngangkaris) also referred to as Wati Kutjarra travelled through the area and sat chewing native tobacco. It was however so strong that they lay down and died sprawled on their backs with their legs wide apart on the sand. Their bodies began to urinate and so great was the flow that the ground became saturated and a great salt lake was formed. Today the lake is called Kumpurkurra (bad urine). Once the lake formed the men came back to life and travelled throughout the area having further adventures.

Tommy Lowry began his artistic career carving wooden implements and traditional weapons. Though only an occasional painter for Papunya Tula he quickly insinuated himself and became notable as a highly talented artist with an individual style. Works created during the early 1970's are extremely rare however and only the occasional piece from later in his career appears at sale making them highly desirable and collectable.

Profile References

Johnson, Vivien. 2008. Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists. Australia. IAD Press.
Bardon, G. 2004. Papunya: A Place Made After the Story: The Beginnings of Western Desert Painting Movement. Victoria. Melbourne University Publishing.
Genocchio, Benjamin . July 19 2008. Buyer Beware. Australia. The Age.

Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri - Tingari at Tarkulnga, 1987

Tingari at Tarkulnga, 1987
Sold by Joel Fine Art, Melbourne on 03/06/2008 for $32,940.00
Size: 160 x 214 cm

Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri - Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya, 1984

Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya, 1984
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 24/07/2007 for $576,000.00
Size: 121.5 x 183 cm

Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri - Dingo Dreaming at Wandurankuntjana 1986

Dingo Dreaming at Wandurankuntjana 1986
Sold by Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne on 24/07/2007 for $18,000.00
Size: 182 x 91 cm

Sites

Kuluntjarrana , Patja, Tarkulnga, Wandurankuntjana

Subjects

Tingari , Snake , Dingo, Ceremonial Depictions, Medicine Story, Women’s Dreamings, Eagle

Medium

Carved Wooden Artifacts, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen and Canvas

Regional Map

Note: This map is a representation and not accurate. Some sites are sacred and therefore not shown.

Market Performance

Career Totals

AIAM100 Rank
20
AIAM100 Rating
5.6649
Sold/Offered
14/19
Clearance Rate
74%
Average Price
$52,333
Total Price
$732,655
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0.0678 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 1.3537 0.1815 0.0000 0.0000 0.0775 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
1/1 0/0 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/1 0/1 3/3 1/1 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/1
$4,600 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $203,600 $32,940 $0 $0 $6,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 - 2016

Top 10 Artworks Sold at Auction

1

Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya, 1984

sale price: $576,000.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 51 date: 24/07/2007
121.5 x 183 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
2

Tingari at Tarkulnga, 1987

sale price: $32,940.00
auction: Joel Fine Art, Melbourne  lot: 49 date: 03/06/2008
160 x 214 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
3

Ngalyukuntinya 1985

sale price: $23,000.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 236 date: 29/06/1998
122 x 122 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
4

Dingo Dreaming at Wandurankuntjana 1986

sale price: $18,000.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 106 date: 24/07/2007
182 x 91 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
5

Untitled - Ceremonial Design 1971

sale price: $16,800.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 39 date: 24/07/2007
48 x 8.5 cm Synthetic polymer paint on composition board
6

Eagle Dreaming at Kuluntjarrana 1986

sale price: $13,800.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 101 date: 28/06/1999
140 x 120 cm Synthetic polymer paint on linen
7

Medicine Story 1972

sale price: $10,350.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 33 date: 30/06/1997
51 x 40.5 cm Synthetic polymer paint on composition board
8

Women's Dreaming 1972

sale price: $8,050.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 211 date: 30/06/1997
65 x 46 cm Synthetic polymer powder paint on composition board
9

Eagle Dreaming at Kuluntjarrana 1986

sale price: $8,050.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 30 date: 17/06/1996
140 x 120 cm Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
10

Untitled 1971

sale price: $7,475.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 57 date: 28/06/1999
22.5 x 7.5 cm Synthetic polymer paint and natural earth pigments and PVA on composition board

Available Artworks

Sorry There are currently no artworks available for this artist.