Untitled heads [1-10] 1998 [W/P]

Synthetic polymer paint on paper, each c.74 x 56

Signed and dated (##3-6)

Coll.: unknown

(images ##1-6 as noted below)

All ten drawings were shown at Metro 5 in 2002, and an example – reproduced at left (#1) – was published in the catalogue-brochure: this work was apparently based on a photo of William Burroughs, one of Arkley’s culture heroes. Arkley’s photo archive also includes the image shown here as #2, apparently from the same series.

Two examples (reproduced here as #3 and 4) appeared at auction with Lawson-Menzies in Sydney in April 2003, but failed to sell; both were noted as signed and dated 1998. The first of these (here designated #3) reappeared at auction with Lawson-Menzies in April 2005 (and was sold); #4 was then auctioned again by Lawson-Menzies in August 2005 and March 2006, on each occasion failing to reach its estimate.

Two further examples (reproduced here as ##5-6) were auctioned by Leonard Joel in Dec.2013, both noted as signed and dated ‘Howard Arkley 98’, with provenance indicated as shown below.

Four ‘Head Studies’ auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2003 may have been from the same series, though the sizes indicated are different, and there are no ID photos.

B/W Icon Head 1998 [W/P] may also belong to this series.


  • nos.1-10: all with Metro 5, Feb.2002
  • # 3 and 4 auctioned by Lawson-Menzies, Sydney, 15 April 2003, lots 84 and 85 (ill.; each as ‘Head’ 1998, ‘Synthetic polymer paint on linen’, 75 x 55; s+d; est.$10-15,000; neither sold)
  • 4 ‘Head Studies’ (possibly from this series) also auctioned by Sotheby’s, Melb., 5 May 2003, lot 220 (each as undated, 84 x 59.3, ‘art dye ink on paper’; not illustrated)
  • #3 auctioned by Lawson-Menzies, Sydney, 20 April 2005, lot 59 (details as above, ill.; est.$8-10,000; sold for $7,000 plus buyer’s premium) (another example, possibly #4, mentioned as lot 60 in this auction in AASD, does not appear in the catalogue, and was presumably withdrawn)
  • #4 auctioned by Lawson-Menzies, Sydney, 28 Aug.2005, lot 55 (same details as above; ill.; est.$7-9,000; not sold)
  • #4 auctioned again by Lawson-Menzies, Sydney, 26 March 2006, lot 277 (same dets., ill.; est.$6-8,000; not sold)
  • ##5-6 both auctioned by Leonard Joel, Melb., 3 Dec.2013, lots 81-82 (est.$4-6,000 each; each sold for $3,000 plus buyer’s premium [$3,600]); size of each given as 75 x 55; provenance noted as via Barry Sherman, bought from Ken McGregor; ills. as shown here


  • HA Metro 5, Feb.2002