Post by Will Owen about the new icons of the desert exhibition:

The largest exhibition in the United States to date of seminal works of contemporary Aboriginal painting from central Australia will open on January 10 at Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art in Ithaca, NY. Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya features dozens of works drawn from the collection of John and Barbara Wilkerson, most dating back to the earliest years of painting at Papunya, 1971-1972.

The John Scobieexhibition at Cornell will run until April 5, 2009. After that it will travel to the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at the University of California, Los Angeles from May 3 through August 2, 2009 before returning to the east coast and the Grey Art Gallery at New York University from September 1 through December 5, 2009. Cornell University Press will be publishing an extensively illustrated catalog edited by curator Roger Benjamin to accompany the exhibition in February. In addition to Benjamin, contributors to the catalog include Dick Kimber, Vivien Johnson, Fred Myers, and Hetti Perkins.

On Saturday, February 14, the Johnson Museum, with support from the Actus Foundation and the Cornell Council for the Arts, will present a day-long symposium, “Papunya Then and Now.” This event will be preceded by a lecture, “Aboriginal Art from Papunya Tula: From the Beginning,” at the Museum on Thursday, February 12 at 5:15 pm by Roger Benjamin, and a reception on Friday, February 13 at 5:00 pm. Additionally, the Cornell Cinema Australian Film Series will screening four films from January 29 to February 12, including Geoff Bardon’s rarely seen masterpiece, Mick and the Moon (1978) and the thoroughly delightful contact history Benny and the Dreamers (1993), which star Mick Namarari Tjaplatjarri and Benny Tjapaltjarri, respectively. Supplementing these films of the Papunya Tula greats will be Rolf de Heer’s The Tracker (2002) and Ten Canoes (2006).