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    Sale 7482

    Modern and Contemporary Australian Art Including Works by New Zealand and South African Artists

    12 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 73

    John Henry Olsen (b.1928)

    Edge of the Void: 'Frog Jumping', 'The Cooper Enters the Void', 'Life Drawn towards the Void', 'Emus by the Lake', 'The Christ Bird Arrives', and 'The Leap'

    Price Realised  


    John Henry Olsen (b.1928)
    Edge of the Void: 'Frog Jumping', 'The Cooper Enters the Void', 'Life Drawn towards the Void', 'Emus by the Lake', 'The Christ Bird Arrives', and 'The Leap'
    all signed, numbered, titled and dated '48/50 [as titled] John Olsen 75.' in pencil
    six etchings (comprising three etchings and three aquatints with sugarlift) on Arches paper, printed by Max Miller Sept.-Nov. 1975, published by Port Jackson Press 24 Nov. 1975
    the etchings 31½ x 23 5/8in. (80 x 60cm.)
    in the original portfolio with lithograph title as issued

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    'In 1975 I began to be interested in the miracle that was taking place in the centre of Australia at L Eyre -- it was full of water the whole 175 kilometres of it. Geologists subsequently found out it had not had as much water in it for 500 years. ...

    'In 1973-74, Lake Eyre filled with water. It was the first time in white man's civilization. What is commonly known as the 'dead heart' became instantaneously the living heart. Hundreds of millions of birds, mammals, insects and flowers rushed towards its abundant void. The lake is paradoxical, conceptual, for it is impossible to view it without thinking of the empty lake, Malcolm Campbell's speed test ground; its superabundance now and its future emptiness. This series is a celebration of that rare moment. ...

    'When L. Eyre filled, the area changed its whole character. What CT Madigan described as one of the most forbidding places on earth -- became an earthly paradise. Life throbbed & buzzed on the edge of the lake & the lake itself was full of fish. The edge of the lake however was surrounded by an unpleasant black mud that was not unlike sump oil. I'm trying to get at the organic urge moving towards life's energies. A doctor, not necessarily a very visual one, said to me it reminded him of a womb with all the organisms surging dynamically around it. I rather liked that idea -- a certain transferability or image.

    'I am rather taken by the bubbly aquatint & sugar lift painted over the top of it. I have engraved on it in parts just as a counterpoise against the globby fattiness of the sugar lift.

    '... Lake that is no longer there, we loved you.' (J. Olsen, op. cit., pp.54-62)

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    Private collection, London.


    J. Olsen, My Complete Graphics 1957-1979, Melbourne, 1980, pp.54-65 (illustrated) and pp.242-43 ('Index of Prints'), nos. 15-20 (illustrated).