Australian Galleries: The Purves family business: The first four decades 1956–1999
Australian Galleries, $89.95 hb, 320 pp
Australian Galleries opened in Melbourne in June 1956. One year later, Andy Warhol established Andy Warhol Enterprises in New York. Warhol’s art of making money became an art form in itself, with the artist elaborating that ‘good business is the best art’. Gallerists Anne and Tam Purves would have agreed. This husband-and-wife team took selling art seriously and introduced a professionalism unlike anything that had existed in Melbourne. Their new modern enterprise occupied a converted front section of their Derby Street paper-pattern factory in the working-class suburb of Collingwood. While the couple had no experience in art dealership or gallery management, they were confident that the arts were ready for something different. Anne, accomplished in commercial design, had considerable artistic aspirations, while Tam merely transferred his well-established business acumen across the factory threshold into their smart new premises. As with any business venture, timing was important, and they capitalised on the leverage that the 1956 Olympic Games brought to Melbourne.