Past News at Kluge-Ruhe

Aboriginal Art Exhibit and Symposium at Cornell • Tuesday February 17, 2009

Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University is showing an important exhibit of early Western Desert paintings from the collection of John and Barbara Wilkerson, January 10 – April 5, 2009. Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya was curated by Australian art historian Roger Benjamin from the Power Institute at the University of Sydney. The collection of 48 paintings, in acrylic on board and canvas, are some of the early works by founding members of the western desert contemporary art movement including Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula and Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi. The opening reception, held on Friday, February 13.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Cornell hosted a one-day symposium, Papunya Then and Now, on Saturday, February 14, 2009. Kluge-Ruhe curators Margo Smith and Dominique Cocuzza were among 90 attendees, which included academics, collectors and enthusiasts from around the world. Benjamin presented the keynote address. Other speakers were Fred R. Myers, Silver Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at New York University; Vivien Johnson, Professor in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales; Jennifer Biddle, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics, University of New South Wales; and Paul Sweeney, Manager of Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs.

Bobby West Tjupurrula, Joseph Jurra Tjapaltjarri and Ray James Tjangala created a ground design measuring approximately 10 × 10 ft. in the exhibition gallery. Materials for the ground design, including sand, plant fiber and ochres, were shipped from Australia. Relatives of the original Papunya painters, West, Jurra and James are accomplished contemporary artists whose work is represented by Papunya Tula Artists. West discussed the installation with Fred Myers in front of a large crowd in the gallery following the symposium.

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art has programmed a number of lectures, receptions and a film series to accompany this exhibit.

Image: Detail of Shorty Lungkarta Tjungurrayi, Mystery Sand Mosaic, 1974 ©2009 Aboriginal Artists Agency, Sydney.