A close relationship with our most lively art

Wellington art collectors Les and Milly Paris in their home.
Wellington art collectors Les and Milly Paris in their home.

One of the largest, most important domestic art collections in the country goes under the hammer at Auckland's Art+Object next week. The Les and Milly Paris Collection, 230 paintings gathered since the 1950s by the Wellington couple, were bought for love and enjoyment, and covered floor to ceiling in the Paris' modest home.

Their first purchase, in the late 50s, was a portrait of a Maori boy by Peter McIntyre; their collecting seriously accelerated through the 1970s, although they started to find themselves priced out of the market by the late 80s. The auction presents a snapshot of a lively period in New Zealand art: Michael Illingworth, Ronnie van Hout, Richard McWhannell, Charles Tole, Julian Dashper, Gordon Walters, Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Michael Smither ... the list is long and impressive, with a good representation of photography - Theo Schoon, Peter Peryer, Fiona Pardington, Les Cleveland, and a selection of exhibition posters, brochures, art books and catalogues.

Les Paris died nearly 12 years ago, and Milly is moving to Australia to be with family, necessitating a major clearout. Viewings run at Art+Object this weekend (11am-5pm), and each day next week until Thursday (Monday, Tuesday, 9am-5.30pm; Wednesday, Thursday, 9am-1pm).

The viewings are supplemented by two talks which will offer insights into the Paris life: today at 3pm Peter Peryer discusses his close relationship with the couple, while Milly Paris joins Auckland Art Gallery senior curator of New Zealand art Ron Brownson in a talk tomorrow at 2pm about how the collection began and grew, and the couple's relationship with the artists. The auction runs over two nights: Wednesday (lots 1-72) and Thursday (lots 73-230), both from 6.30pm.

Art+Object: 3 Abbey St, Newton; artandobject.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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