From ArtNews May 2010

In a few decades, the seemingly abstract compositions of Australia’s aboriginal artists have moved from body painting and sand mosaics to board to acrylics on canvas”and to the walls of major museums
by Carly Berwick

Bush raisins grow in the central Australian desert after hard rains and are used to make sweet snacks and pastes. The raisins are a central motif in Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula’s shimmering Water Dreaming at Kalipinypa (1972), composed of interlocking dots and lines. Collector John Wilkerson calls the painting his Mona Lisa. “After 15 years of looking, it was still mysterious to me,” says Wilkerson, a New York-based venture capitalist, who with his wife, Barbara, has assembled one of the premier American collections of aboriginal art.

Fifty works from the Wilkerson collection toured the country last year in the exhibition “Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya,” organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and subsequently mounted at UCLA’s Fowler Museum and New York University’s Grey Art Gallery. In Los Angeles, it was coupled with a show of Western Desert art drawn from the Kelton Foundation, which houses Los Angeles collector Richard Kelton’s trove of more than 1,300 aboriginal paintings. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting its first show of aboriginal art, “Contemporary Aboriginal Painting from Australia,” consisting of 14 large works, most of them painted during the last decade, drawn from an anonymous U.S. private collection (through June 13).