The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art presents today Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya, on view through April 5. In the more than thirty-five years since its advent at the tiny settlement of Papunya in the desert heart of Australia, the so-called dot-painting movement has become an art instantly and internationally associated with Aboriginal Australia. This, the first exhibition to focus on the founding moment of Papunya art, will look at the first paintings from 1971“73 with the unique status within the history of Aboriginal art as the first paintings ever to transfer the designs of desert ceremonial imagery to a permanent surface. This exhibition is drawn from the collection of John Wilkerson, PhD Class of 1970, and Barbara Wilkerson, which has never before been exhibited as a group.

Organized by the Johnson Museum, Icons of the Desert will travel to the Fowler Museum at UCLA and the Grey Art Gallery at NYU, and has been curated by Professor Roger Benjamin of the University of Sydney.

During the run of the exhibition, visitors to the Johnson will have the unprecedented opportunity to see two Aboriginal artists create a ground work in the gallery using sand and plant fibers.