In 1988 at the Asia Society Galleries in New York, an exhibition titled Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia changed the way Americans viewed Aboriginal art. Dreamings was pivotal in defining Aboriginal art as contemporary fine art, and as a result, several American collectors including John Kluge were inspired to create world class collections. In the past year, two of these collections appeared in major exhibitions at Seattle Art Museum and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, demonstrating the growing significance of Aboriginal art to audiences worldwide.
On June 11 at 7 p.m., the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection will host After the Dreamings – 25 Years of Australian Aboriginal Art in the U.S., a moderated discussion with Françoise Dussart and Wally Caruana, two leading figures in the study of Aboriginal art.
“We will explore the impact of the Dreamings exhibition and the changes that have happened in the years since,” said Margo Smith, Director and Curator of the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. “Contemporary Aboriginal art today is very different from 1988 when the Dreamings exhibition was considered cutting edge. Dussart and Caruana can shed a lot of light on how this change occurred and what it means for Aboriginal art.”
Françoise Dussart is a Professor of Anthropology & Women’s Studies at the University of Connecticut. She has conducted field work with Warlpiri people in Yuendumu, NT over the past 30 years and was instrumental in the development of art production in Central Australia. She served on the curatorial committee for Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia and is the author of La Peinture Des Aborigenes D’Australie (Éditions Parenthèses, 1993) and The politics of ritual in an aboriginal settlement: kinship, gender, and the currency of knowledge (Smithsonian, 2000). Dussart recently contributed an essay to the catalogue for Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art which is on exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art through July 14, 2013.
Wally Caruana was Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia from 1984 to 2001, during which time he oversaw the development of one of the most important collections of Indigenous Australian art in a public museum. Caruana is the author of several publications including Aboriginal Art published by Thames and Hudson in 1993 (third edition 2012). Recently Caruana co-curated Ancestral Modern: The Kaplan –Levi Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art at the Seattle Art Museum.
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