Exhibitions

Innovations in Western Desert Painting, 1972-1999: Selections from The Kelton Foundation

May 3, 2009 – August 2, 2009

The spectacular flourishing of Australian Aboriginal painting after the mid 1970s is one of the most important developments of twentieth century art. Innovations in Western Desert Painting, 1972-1999: Selections from The Kelton Foundation explores changes such as the move to canvas, the use of non-traditional colors, transformations in content with regard to sacred imagery, the maturation of personal styles by individual artists, and the recognition of women artists.

The exhibition begins with enormous canvases by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Johnny Warangula Tjupurrula, and Anatjari Tjakamarra, three of the founding fathers of the movement. These stunning works have rarely been seen in the U.S. Works by two women artists, Pansy Napangati and Gabrielle Possum Nungurrayi, conclude the exhibition with the vibrant color palettes that came into use in the 1990s. The exhibition provides a highly informative companion installation to Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya, which focuses primarily on the earliest years of the movement from its inception in 1971.

Exhibition In Depth

This exhibition features fourteen paintings drawn from the vast collection of The Kelton Foundation. It explores changes in the Western Desert painting movement since its founding, including the shift to canvas, the use of non-traditional colors, transformations in content with regard to sacred imagery, the maturation of personal styles by individual artists, and the recognition of women artists, and provides an informative companion installation to Icons of the Desert, which focuses primarily on the earliest years of the movement.

Innovations in Western Desert Painting, 1972–1999 begins with enormous canvases by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, and Anatjari Tjakamarra, three of the founding fathers of the movement. Works by two women artists, Pansy Napangati and Gabrielle Possum Nungurrayi, conclude the exhibition with the vibrant color palettes that came into use in the 1990s.

The Kelton Foundation maintains the largest private collection of Australian Aboriginal Art in the United States. With more than 1,300 works of Aboriginal Art, the collection spans nearly one hundred years, from early 20th century Arnhem Land bark paintings, through the Western Desert art movement, to contemporary styles of work by urban Aboriginal artists.

Exhibition Credits

This exhibition was produced in association with The Kelton Foundation and was guest curated by Richard Kelton, Kerry Smallwood, and Marcus de Chevrieux. The accompanying programs have been made possible by the Yvonne Lenart Public Programs Fund, The Kelton Foundation, and Manus, the support group for the Fowler Museum.