Tjukurrtjanu TjukurrtjanuTjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art

NGV NGVNGV: 150 years Museum VictoriaMuseum Victoria Papanya Tula ArtistsPapanya Tula Artists

  • An NGV Touring Exhibition
  • 30 September 2011 – 12 February 2012
  • The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia,
  • Federation Square, Melbourne
  •  
  • 9 October 2012 – 20 January 2013
  • Musée du quai Branly, Paris

Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art examines a watershed moment in the history of art when a painting practice emerged at Papunya in Central Australia. Tjukurrtjanu gives prominence to 200 of the first paintings produced at Papunya between 1971 and 1972 and also establishes the vital connection between the works of art and their sources in ephemeral designs made for use in ceremony.

A collaboration between the NGV and Museum Victoria.
In partnership with Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd.

This website contains the names, images and works of Indigenous people who have passed away, which may cause distress to some Indigenous people.

Indigenous people from Central Australia and the Western Desert are advised that this exhibition contains culturally sensitive works that may be considered harmful or inappropriate for viewing by women or uninitiated members of their communities. Care has been taken to respect cultural protocols and, following a comprehensive consultation process, these works will be exhibited separately for the duration of the exhibition and will not be illustrated in the exhibition catalogue or displayed on this website.

Please note that some records contain terms and annotations that reflect the period in which the item was recorded, and may be considered inappropriate today in some circumstances.


One of the central motivations behind the exhibition is to illustrate the close connection between the all-pervasive iconographic symbolism of the Western Desert and the graphic forms that appear in the early Papunya paintings on board. A variety of decorated artefacts, photographs and films that depict the same iconography in divergent settings is presented in the exhibition space to draw attention to these complex interconnections.

Indeed, much of the content of the early Papunya paintings directly relates to the artefacts, dance movements, songs and ritual performances that constitute the totality of Western Desert cultural traditions. In taking this approach, the intention is not only to illustrate the origins of the first Papunya works, but to question the distinction between 'anthropological' and 'art-historical' interpretations of Aboriginal art.

EXHI015734
Unknown
Pintupi active (1950s)
Spear thrower (1950s)
Mulga (Acacia sp.), earth pigments, spinifex resin, sinew, wood
76.0 x 9.0 x 5.0 cm
The Donald Thomson Collection, University of Melbourne
On loan to Museum Victoria, Melbourne (DT4562)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015742
Unknown
Warumungu active (early 1900s)
Group of decorated knives early 1900s
quartzite (flaked), glass, wood, spinifex resin, earth pigments, bark, bush string
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from James Field, 1907 (X13764) (X13697) (X13570) Purchased from G. F. Hill, 1928 (X36746)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015831
Unknown
Bardi active 1930s
Pearl shell pendant 1930s
pearl shell, earth pigments, human hair
56.0 x 12.0 x 5.0 cm
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from the Cripps Collection, 1984 (X98248)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015832
Unknown
Bardi active 1920s
Pearl shell pendant 1920s
pearl shell, earth pigments, human hair
58.5 x 13.2 x 2.5 cm
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from the Cripps Collection, 1984 (X98257)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015839
Unknown
Wangkangurru active 1920s
Headdress 1920s
rabbit fur, fur string
58.5 x 28.0 x 3.5 cm
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from George Aiston, 1923 (X29118)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015835
Unknown
Arrernte active 1900s
Headband early 1900s
fur string, earth pigments
36.0 x 6.0 x 2.5 cm
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Gift from Baldwin Spencer, 1902 (X9560)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015840
Unknown
Kukatja active 1960s
Spear thrower 1960s
Mulga (Acacia sp.), earth pigments, spinifex resin, sinew, wood
64.5 x 14.4 x 2.6 cm
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through the CRA Fund, 1981 (X84086)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015833
Unknown
Warumungu active 1890s
Forehead ornament early 1890s
kangaroo teeth, spinifex resin
17.3 x 20.5 x 1.0 cm
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Francis Gillen, 1899 (X5374)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
EXHI015838
Unknown
Arrernte active 1900s
Necklace 1902
fur string, bandicoot tail tips
29.0 x 22.0 x 5.0 cm
Museum Victoria, Melbourne
Gift from Baldwin Spencer, 1902 (X9622)
© Museum Victoria 2011 / Photographer Benjamin Healley
INST013925
Group of decorated shields from Central Australia
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
INST013913
Group of decorated shields from Central Australia
© artists and their estates 2011, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited and Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd
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