Aboriginal Art. The History Explained. Sort of….

When we were in Alice Spring’s earlier in the year, we went to the cultural art shop to take a look. As you can imagine, it was full of Aboriginal art. I have to say, I didn’t really get it.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the paintings were fantastic. Filled with intricate detail, often very repetitive yet abstract and many with colours that I found quite mesmerising.

Some were huge too, we’re talking six-foot high and eight-foot wide in some cases. But many also had huge price tags; I think the most expensive one we saw in the shop was $50,000. I suppose that was the bit I didn’t get.

We settled for buying a bookmark for $10.

So I decided I needed to find out more and write a post about it. Six months later, here it is. Didn’t take me long to get round to it, did it?

Two YouTube videos, one Wikipedia visit and a quick look at a couple of websites later, here are the results of my comprehensive research.

Originally, all Aboriginal art was done by using ochre. This is an ochre pit I visited just outside of Alice Springs….

An Ochre PitAnd they would paint rock walls, their bodies, artefacts and in the sand. These are some original abstract symbols painted on a rock wall at Uluru…..

Aboriginal abstract symbolsBut in the 70s the modern movement began and Aboriginals started to create permanent art on canvas using acrylic paint. These paintings have become hugely popular in the contemporary art world. Many pieces sell for in excess of $100,000 and three years ago an Aboriginal painting by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri sold for $2.4 million!

For the life of me, I’ll never understand how a painting can be worth that much. But I suppose it’s a bargain compared with the Mona Lisa, reportedly now worth in excess of $100 million. Gosh!

But hey! That’s the art world for you, doesn’t much resemble the real world, does it?

But for free, you can watch this YouTube video. There are some truly stunning Aboriginal artworks in here and it’s all backed by some hypnotic Aboriginal music, well worth 6 minutes of anybody’s life. No wonder they call it Dreamtime…….

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • BobinOz January 28, 2011, 1:09 am | Link

    I didn’t know that but now that you told me, I’m not surprised. When I saw some of the prices these paintings were getting, I thought….. I wonder what the artists do with all that money? They could do so much for their communities. I wonder if they share?

    But, if you’re right, it seems I don’t have to ponder those questions anymore. They don’t see the money.

  • Trin January 26, 2011, 11:43 pm | Link

    Really, the most disgusting part about the whole Aboriginal Art controversy is that for the most part, the artist gets between $25-$200 for something the galleries flog off for thousands. It’s a real shame.

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