Contact: Cara Egan,
SAM Public Relations
SEATTLE ART MUSEUM ORGANIZES MAJOR AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL ART EXHIBITION
Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection
May 31September 2, 2012
SEATTLE, May 3, 2012 – This summer the Seattle Art Museum presents Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection. Organized by SAM with more than 100 works created from 1970 to 2009, the exhibition includes paintings on canvas, ochres on bark and sculptures in wood, fiber and bronze. Ancestral Modern demonstrates an artistic renaissance of the world's oldest living culture.
Indigenous art has flourished in Australia since 1970 when a group of men in the central Australian Papunya settlement painted a mural on a government school building honoring the Tjala, or Honey Ant Ancestors. Never before had the Tjala been depicted in art for outsiders. This landmark painting was one of many that marked a change in Australian culture, as a wave of art production flourished across the continent.
Ancestral Modern will immerse visitors in this recent chapter of art history, featuring paintings that often look deceptively similar to abstract expressionist or minimalist art, but actually depict dreamings of a mountain devil lizard, emu, or a spiteful ancestor. Aboriginal artists rely on a range of techniques and styles to transport their viewer to a new landscape. The use of vivid stripes enables a viewer to stand at the edge of a shimmering salt lake, while swirls of reds and pinks bring a viewer underground to watch a yam grow. Landscapes without horizons, paintings about laws, portraits of ancestral beings, still lifes devoted to bush foods and hollow-log coffins commemorating people’s lives represent the creativity of Aboriginal artists, and give rise to this dynamic and impressive movement.
The exhibition will introduce several artists in depth, including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Rover Thomas, and John Mawurndjul. All selections are recent additions or promised gifts to the Seattle Art Museum collection and derived from Bob Kaplan and Margaret Levi, a Seattle-based couple who have developed the collection over the last 20 years.
This American debut is especially appropriate in Seattle. In 2007, the Seattle Art Museum became the first general art museum in the United States to feature a gallery devoted to Australian Aboriginal art. This exhibition and its accompanying publication will provide a deeper look at this new chapter of art history.
The exhibition is organized by the Seattle Art Museum.
Generous support is provided by the Visionary Circle: Jeffrey and Susan Brotman, Barney A. Ebsworth, Jon and Mary Shirley, Virginia Wright, and Ann P. Wyckoff, who have provided crucial funding to make the exhibition possible. A lead grant was provided by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne. Exhibition Sponsor is Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. Major support provided by The Seattle Foundation. Patron Support provided by Embassy of Australia, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, and The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Additional support is provided by Alida and Chris Latham, and Contributors to SAM’s Annual Fund. Media Sponsor is King 5 Television. Official Hotel Sponsor is Grand Hyatt Seattle.