A collaborative artwork between the celebrated artist Ralph Hotere and his wife Mary McFarlane could fetch $80,000 when it goes under the hammer next month.

Barcelona 1998 is a mixed media design made on mirror with a handmade kauri frame and coins and metals that Hotere flattened by placing them on railway tracks behind his studio.

The 1155mm x 915mm artwork will be sold at Cordy's auction house in Auckland on July 5. It has an estimate of $60,000-$80,000.

Auctioneer Andrew Grigg said it was a rare work from one of New Zealand's most distinguished and sought after artists.


"His work is represented in every major public and private collection in New Zealand and in art museums throughout the world."

Hotere was widely-considered New Zealand's greatest living artist until his death in Dunedin in February 2013, aged 81.

In a career spanning more than five decades, he became well known for tackling key events in New Zealand's history with his dark and poetic paintings.

In 2010, his Black Window sold for $275,000 -- the highest price then realised for a work by a living New Zealand artist.

Hotere was born Hone Papita Raukura Hotere in 1931, one of 15 siblings, at Mitimiti, just north of Hokianga Harbour.

He attended St Peter's Maori College (Hato Petera College) and Auckland Teachers' College, before moving to Dunedin in 1952, to study art at the former King Edward Technical College.

At that time, he qualified as a Tiger Moth pilot at the Taieri Aerodrome Training School in Mosgiel.

He later worked as a schools art adviser for the Education Department in the Bay of Islands, before winning a New Zealand Art Societies Fellowship in 1961, to study at the Central School of Art in London. His time in England coincided with the pop art movement and greatly influenced his later work.

He returned to New Zealand in 1965 to focus on his art and settled in Port Chalmers.

He held his first solo exhibition, the self-titled Ralph Hotere, at the Dunedin Public Library the same year.

Two breakthrough solo exhibitions followed in Sangro Paintings and Human Rights (1965) and Black Paintings (1968), before he was awarded the University of Otago Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in 1969.

His art is dominated by black, both in colour and in the artworks' titles, and makes extensive use of words, often quoting poets and his conversations with them.

His Sangro series was a memorial to his brother, Private Jack Hotere, who was killed in action by the Sangro River in Italy on December 21, 1943.

He dealt with key New Zealand historical events such as the Springbok tour and the Rainbow Warrior sinking.