Bark painting of Arnhem Land, Australia: the Western reception 1960-1990
This article brings together existing research as well as new data to examine the shift in the reception of Arnhem Land (Australia) bark painting, from being understood initially as a form of ethnographic art, to one of contemporary art. It investigates the historical and conceptual nature of this process of recognition, especially its institutional basis. Despite key studies, this overall process is not well known or always considered. Although the reception of Aboriginal art has been increasingly researched, the focus has tended to be on Western Desert acrylic paintings. This article aims to more fully integrate the Arnhem Land bark painting into this history. My account follows the general patterns of reception, both within Australia and internationally. Interviews with key institutional protagonists provide new and critical reflections on one of the key moments in the globalisation of art in the late twentieth century.