Nicolas Rothwell reports for The Australian: ALMOST four decades ago, in the remote western desert community of Papunya, senior Aboriginal men began painting their traditional designs. Swiftly, insistently, the art map of Australia changed. Within a few years, those first, small works on board, and the elaborate, tightly dotted landscape images that followed from them were being widely noticed, admired, and collected: the modern indigenous art movement was taking flight.
Since then, generations of artists, both men and women, the majority of them Pintupi people from the desert heartland, have helped build that movement into a tide of images and bright colours; the Centre’s way of seeing things has become part of Australia’s understanding of itself. Now, at last, those early masters of the painting tradition are themselves sketched, and placed in context, by an encyclopedic new book, ambitious in scope, radical in approach: Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists (IAD Press) by Vivien Johnson, the leading historian of the desert school.
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