Abstract

A mere twenty years ago most people thought of contemporary Australian Aboriginal arts and crafts as primarily the production of bark paintings and boomerangs, mostly for the tourist trade, or as the European-style watercolour landscapes of the Aranda artists from the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission east of Alice Springs, of whom the best-known was Albert Namatjira (1902-1959). Collecting Western institutions were generally museums whose interest was primarily in the ethnographic aspects of the art. Since then there have been some remarkable developments in both quantity and range, at a rate which makes any description or analysis likely to be out of date as soon as it is written. In this, Australia’s Bicentennial year, Aboriginal art has become one of the prime ways of asserting the continued and distinct identity of Fourth World people where, unlike the Third World, the colonizers never went home.

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