The Dealer is the Devil: An Insiders History of the Aboriginal Art Trade
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Adrian Newstead’s explosive memoir lifts the lid on what Robert Hughes once described as “the last great art movement of the 20th century.” After thirty years sitting round campfires with Aboriginal artists all over Australia, Newstead has produced the definitive expose of “the first great art movement of the 21st century”. From remote indigenous communities with their dispossessed populations of tribal elders and troubled youth, to the gleaming white box galleries, high powered auction houses, and formidable art institutions of major cities all over the world. Newstead combines personal anecdotes with an insider’s grasp of the inter national art market. With vivid portraits of artists, dealers and scamsters, the book races from pre-contact and colonial days to the heady celebrations of the Sydney Olympics and the devastating impact of the global financial crisis. Newstead’s humour, love and respect for his subjects produces a story that reads at times like a thriller and also a lament for a lost world. WBN reviewers gave five stars to The Dealer is the Devil, Adrian Newstead’s ‘personal and encyclopaedic’ examination of the Indigenous art industry.
transit. Judy Watson won the Moet & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship in 1995, which was, at the time, the premier award in Australia for an artist under 35 years of age. She travelled to France the following year and was included in the Venice Biennale in 1997. Another outstanding urban artist who gained recognition outside Boomalli’s cooperative umbrella was Gordon Bennett. A sort of Basquiat/Banksy/Pollock, his riffs on elements from science fiction, fantasy, psychology and European art
advised to get out of town, which she duly did, never to return. A wild card now entered the fray in the person of John Ioannou, a former tribal art dealer. Good-looking, suave and erudite, with expensive tastes in cars, clothes and antiquarian objects, Ioannou was more than just a passionate collector. After a peripatetic youth spent in Australia and Greece, and a stint as a musician and songwriter, he’d become a very successful tribal art dealer during the 1990s and the owner of a rare
focusing on highly colourful canvases, the unimaginable occurred. Overlooked for almost two decades, Arnhem Land bark painting returned to prominence. Crossing Country – The Alchemy of Western Arnhem Land Art, an exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, included bark paintings, hollow logs and spirit sculptures by senior artists of earlier generations such as Paddy Compass, David Yirawala and Peter Marralwanga. These were juxtaposed with those by senior living artists, including John
satisfy her demands. Men like Ronnie Lawson could organise large gatherings, travel thousands of kilometres each year to attend ceremonies, sing thousands of verses relating their songline, and manage the lives of large extended families with skill and good humour. Abie Jangala walked the 800-kilometre Tanami Track between Yuendumu and Lajamanu in his youth. Jimmy Robertson was a station foreman in charge of large teams of men building stockyards in some of the most remote and inhospitable
paintings and forget about the rest. I was to fire my most competent assistants, and become a company employee on a reduced but still significant salary. Rod always had a way of destroying my Christmases. Every year I had worked for him, I’d been forced to renegotiate my contract in December. This year I was determined it would be different. I was overweight, overworked and staring down the barrel of a heart attack and early grave. My marriage was straining under the pressures of constant travel