The Les and Milly Paris art collection

September 19-20 will see the Les and Milly Paris art collection auctioned, showcasing the finest works from New Zealand's top artists in Auckland.

Gordon Walters Painting No 7
Gordon Walters is renowned for his representation of Maori culture

The outstanding collection began following the couple's marriage in 1963, with the addition of a portrait of a Maori boy from Peter McIntyre to their family home. Les Paris later admitted having lied to Milly about the origins of the work, saying that it was received as a gift in order to hide the fact that it was clearly beyond their means.

Thirty years later, the humble beginnings of the couple's collection would be forgotten and their artworks became the subject of a 1992 exhibition at the Wellington City Art Gallery, entitled Hit Parade: Contemporary Art from the Paris Family Collection. Their remarkable amassment has since become one of the country's most respected, displaying close to five decades of dedicated collecting.

Among the most striking and valuable of the works in the collection are pieces from Gordon Walters, a Wellington-born artist and graphic designer who is renowned for his representation of Maori culture through bold, abstract works. Two complementary works, Mokoia and Painting No 7, will each sell with a $279,000-358,000 estimate.

One of New Zealand's most iconic paintings, The Family in the Van from Michael Smither, will also be making an appearance. The 1971 piece, which captures the artist's distinctive style and features the original label from his famed Wonder Years exhibition, is expected to bring $143,000-198,000.

Widely regarded as one of New Zealand's most important living artists, Ralph Hotere's work will be represented by a dark abstract piece entitled Requiem for Tony, which originates from his Black Paintings series. Hotere, an artist of Maori descent, was recently awarded the Order of New Zealand, the highest honour in New Zealand's honours system. The estimate given for his work reflects this at $143,000-206,000

Visit our dedicated Art & Photography news section for more articles on emerging markets such as this one, as well as the top auctions from around the world.

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