Benjamin Genocchio writes about the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 which is preventing international collectors from acquiring certain pieces of Aboriginal art.
Quoted from the article:
I am all for banning the export of art of national cultural value. For example, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri’s 1977 painting Warlugulong also sold at Sotheby’s last year for $2.4 million to a dealer acting on behalf of the National Gallery. This was a work of real national significance, one of the most important 20th-century Australian paintings, and rightly deserved to remain in Australia.
But the law protecting cultural heritage is no longer serving the interests of Aboriginal artists, the international promotion of Aboriginal art, or the market. I would even go so far as to say that it has been very damaging to the art market as a whole, and to the world’s awareness of the best Australian Aboriginal art. If we do not change the law, the international market will wither and die.
Take Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya. Not a single Australian art museum or public institution bid on the painting when it was put up for auction, according to Sotheby’s. It contains no representations of especially important secret or sacred Aboriginal ancestral material, nor does it have massive historical significance. It is from 1984. Wilkerson bought it fairly on the open market. But a year later he still hasn’t heard a word about its status, other than that its export was “deemed contentious” by “experts”.