A groundbreaking exploration of contemporary art-making practices among Australia’s Indigenous peoples, drawn from one of the world’s largest private collections of Aboriginal art, will open at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College in September 2012. Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art, curated by Stephen Gilchrist, highlights this extraordinary collection through its display of more than one hundred works of contemporary Indigenous art from Australia.
These objects are by artists from outback communities as well as major metropolitan centers and span five decades of creative activity. They also represent the many art-making practices of Aboriginal peoples across the Australian continent, including acrylic paintings on linen and canvas, earthen ochre paintings on bark, board, and canvas, and sculpture in a variety of media. While the exhibition features many influential artists who have contributed to the development of an Indigenous art canon since the 1970s, the focus is squarely on subsequent generations of artists, who are breathing new life into ancient stories and broadening the possibilities of Indigenous art. The exhibition therefore also includes contemporary paintings that recall the ancestral narratives of the Dreaming as well as photographs from urban-based artists who depict the contemporary realities of Indigenous people from Australia. Resonant with cultural memory, these objects reference and reinvigorate customary iconographies, speak to the history and legacy of colonization, and affirm Robert Hughes’s statement that Aboriginal art is “the last great art movement of the twentieth century.”
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