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Emily Kame Kngwarreye painting sells for $1.6m, breaking record for an Australian female artist

Aboriginal work, Earth’s Creation I, was shown at the 2015 Venice Biennale

Emily Kame Kngwarreye's Earth’s Creation I (1994) Fine Art Boure

A painting by the late Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye has sold for A$2.1m at auction in Sydney, ($1.6m/£1.2m; with buyer’s premium), setting a record sale price for an Australian female artist. The work, Earth’s Creation I (1994), which was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2015, was bought by the New York-based dealer Tim Olsen for a client.

The auction, held earlier this week, was organised by the companies Fine Art Bourse and Cooee Art Marketplace. Adrian Newstead, the director of the Cooee Art Gallery, says that the painting has been granted an export permit, implying that the work has been sold abroad.

Tim Goodman, the executive chairman of Fine Art Bourse, says that “this sale will go a long way to breathing life back into the Aboriginal art market.” The work fetched A$1.1m ($829,000/£626,000) at auction in 2007 when it was acquired by the Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Cultural Museum in Alice Springs.

An online catalogue listing says that the vast four-panel piece by Kngwarreye “pays reverence to the sacredness of the Earth and her ancestors. Emily created the painting while sitting on the canvas, moving around continuously until the entire surface was completed.” Kngwarreye, who died in 1996, did not begin painting until she was in her 80s.