The exhibition comprises approximately fifty pieces assembled by Seattle-based collectors Robert Kaplan and Margaret Levi. Organized both geographically and thematically, the exhibition explores the dramatic revolution that began in the mid-twentieth century, when artists from numerous cultural groups began to adapt traditional artistic practices—songs, ceremonies, body art, and bark or rock paintings—for audiences outside their families or communities. This transition coincided with a broad shift in the reception of Aboriginal art, as museums in Australia and beyond began to actively collect and exhibit contemporary work by indigenous Australian artists. Though rooted in age-old cultural forms, these powerfully immediate works now occupy a singular and increasingly prominent place in global contemporary art.
Image: Tommy Mitchell (Ngaanyatjarra people, Warakurna, Southwestern Deserts, Western Australia, 1943–2013) "Walu," 2008, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 40 x 60 in., promised gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan to the Seattle Art Museum, T2011.55.51, © Tommy Mitchell Courtesy American Federation of Arts.