Under the Hammer

Saturday 4th March
Published by: Herald Sun
Written by: Alice Coster
Facebook Didn’t Love Masterpiece CHARLES Blackman’s painting, Women Lovers, has hung above the bed of art collectors Tom and Sylvia Lowenstein for the past 20 years. The lovers’ entwined bodies were inspired by Blackman’s muse and lover, Genevieve De Couvreur, a 19-year-old art student he married when he was 50 and painted after moving to Queensland. He called the steamy background of the rainforest in many of these paintings The Garden of Eden, and De Couvreur was his Eve. The Lowenstein Collection is being sold by Mossgreen Auctions in Armadale on Tuesday, and it should set romantic hearts a-flutter. It is an auction for lovers. But Facebook wasn’t in the mood this week when it banned Mossgreen from using the image to advertise its auction, declaring it violated the social network site’s “adult content” ad policy. Mossgreen took Facebook to task over its prudish decision and it had a change of heart (a bit of media interest can do that) — reversing it’s decision late on Thursday night. “We are pleased Facebook has now approved use of the image, which follows media interest from around the world,” Mossgreen director Paul Sumner said. “However, we are still unclear as to what it was Facebook were opposed to in the painting, the nudity, or to the fact it represents two women, two same-sex figures, lying naked together.” Tom Lowensteinisn’t a normal tax accountant — he has collected all the great Australian painters. Brett Whiteley’s coupling lovers and Margaret Olley’s still life has a reclining nude (after Manet) — just don’t tell Facebook. The Blackman painting has an estimate of $45,000 to $50,000. Tom Lowenstein said he discussed it many years ago with his friend, saying: “Looking at the cat with its greedy green eyes the thought came to me that it is like a protector, protecting the girls. But then it also has a very voyeuristic look about it.”The bohemian Blackman replied: ‘Tom, for an accountant, you’re bloody perceptive!’