Harald Vike is a household name among Australian art collectors. Born in Kordal, Norway on a family property, Vike grew up surrounded by nature and showed an infatuation with it from a young age. He would spend time walking in the great forests near his family farm observing and drawing, by the age of fourteen he was taking paints and canvases with him to the valleys to paint plein air. Although he had no formal knowledge of the style it is said that he simply enjoyed working while surrounded by nature.
It was at this age that Vike decided to leave school to work on the farm and to commit his spare time to painting and drawing, his parents refusing to pay for art classes, he learnt by copying the work of Norwegian landscape painters Hans Fresrik Gude and Johanna Christian Dahl.
By the age of 17 their small farm could no longer support the growing family and so Vike took to working on a whale-oil tanker. He travelled to islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, and then later, employed as a shark-shooter, he would work in French Equatorial Africa. It was during this work that he would develop his distinct style of figurative drawing taking sketches of the characters he met along his journeys.
Vike had travelled far and wide by the time he made it to Western Australia at the age of 21. He worked in the wheatbelt for a period of time before returning to Norway. Upon his return he met artist Hans Holman who convinced him to commit to fulltime painting. He decided to pursue this in Australia because he found the quality of light there fascinating.
He arrived in Perth in 1929 and soon became friends with Pitt Morison who had a strong influence on the development of his style. He would also become friends and work closely with Leith Angelo, Vlase Zanalis, and Herbert McClintock. He was part of the city’s first avant-garde scene.
Vike left Perth for Melbourne before WWII, struggling at first he was later introduced to Allan McCulloch who got him a job as a black and white illustrator for the Australian Post. Through McCulloch, Vike developed a friendship with Len Annois through whom he developed his water colouring skills. The three would paint together on weekends around Heidelberg and the Bucchas Marsh areas. Vike painted several significant canvases at Heidelberg.
Vike worked for many years in Melbourne as an artist before spending his later years between Adelaide, Brisbane, Tasmania and finally back to Perth where his paintings were regarded for their significance in the city’s art history. Vike died in Perth in 1987 aged 80 he was still working up until his sudden illness and death.
His works have been sold on the Australian secondary (auction) market since 1973. Nearly 800 works have been offered with the mix between works on paper and paintings around 50% each. Top prices for Harald Vike works, including buyer’s premium, is $11,500 for a watercolour, $29,900 for an oil painting and $2,875 for a drawing. With a record of being traded in the secondary market for nearly 50 years Vike’s works are still very popular and his market position is assured.
We at GFL have been favoured with instructions to sell online a consignment of Harald Vike drawings. All of the works are related to his travels to the outback and show his exceptional drawing abilities. That Vincent Van Gogh was an inspiration to him is evident in many of these works as they are bold and purposeful in their execution, the artist has not held back or shown hesitancy.