Publication Details

McLean, I. A. "Namatjira's absent presence in Australian national discourse." Australian Painting in Britain: Cultural Diplomacy, Art and National Identity. United Kingdom: King's College, 2012. 4-5.

Link to publisher version (URL)

King’s College London


By the early 1950s Albert Namatjira had achieved an unprecedented presence in the Australian consciousness. He had sell-out exhibitions, received more press coverage than any other Australian artist, was lionized in Australia’s capital cities and had become a household name. His success was due to more than the quality his art. His Aboriginality played into the mid-twentieth-century discourse of Australian nationalism and the look and subject matter of his paintings reflected the most prominent and popular school of Australian landscape art associated with this discourse. Why then is his work absent from official exhibitions designed to promote the idea of an Australian national identity?