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30 juin 2010 3 30 /06 /juin /2010 12:08



Image Credit: Bessie Nakamarra Sims, Yuendumu/Warlpiri, Yarla Jukurrpa (Bush Potato Dreaming), 1996,

acrylic on canvas, 182 x 60 cm. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Will Owen and Harvey

Wagner; 2009.92.31. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VISCOPY, Australia.


The Owen and Wagner Collection

of Australian Aboriginal Art

For Immediate Release

June 2010

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Announces the Owen and Wagner Collection

of Australian Aboriginal Art

The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College is pleased to announce an important

private gift of contemporary Aboriginal art. Will Owen and Harvey Wagner have gifted

over three hundred works to the museum, representing the many exciting contemporary

art-making practices of Aboriginal peoples across the Australian continent. These objects,

in styles both traditional and contemporary, are by artists from remote Outback

communities as well as major metropolitan centers, and they span six decades of creative

activity. The Owen and Wagner Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art includes acrylic

paintings on linen and canvas, earthen ochre paintings on bark, board, and canvas,

sculpture in a variety of media, weavings of palm fibers and parrot feathers, and artifacts.

The Hood Museum of Art already has distinguished art collections from Africa, the Arctic,

and Melanesia, but this gift makes the institution one of the foremost repositories of

contemporary Aboriginal Australian art outside of its home continent.

The objects come with documented provenance and, in many cases, explanatory material

that will form the basis for their scholarly interpretation. As the collectors point out, "We

wanted to represent the artistic traditions that had grown out of ceremony and myth, but

also the engaged and innovated work created by art school-educated urban Aboriginal

people from the metropolitan coasts." The Owen and Wagner Collection includes works

by Alice Nampitjinpa, Bessie Nakamarra Sims, Boxer Milner Tjampitjin, Clifford Possum

Tjapaltjarri, Clinton Nain, Emily Kngwarreye, George Milpurrurru, John Mandjiwuy

Gurruwiwi, Makinti Napanangka, Millie Skeen, Paddy Bedford Jawalyi, Queenie

McKenzie, Rosella Namok, Roy Wiggan, and Walangukura Napanangka.


The Owen and Wagner Collection

of Australian Aboriginal Art

The contemporary Aboriginal art movement emerged about 1970 when some senior

elders were encouraged to make paintings on boards for sale, using clan designs from

their "Dreamings" as they had done on their bodies, sand, wood, and rock for thousands of

years. Owen and Wagner became interested in Aboriginal art upon viewing the

Dreamings exhibition at the Asia Society in New York City in 1988. Although they had

long been involved with the contemporary American art scene, the works that they

encountered in Dreamings offered an exciting new perspective on what they saw as a

dynamic, abstract, and very contemporary art. Two years later they made a trip to

Australia and bought their first acrylic paintings by Indigenous Australian artists. As their

collecting continued, they remained committed to sourcing works of art directly from the

Aboriginal communities and their representatives in the capital cities, working, for

example, with Papunya Tula Artists, Maningrida Arts and Culture, Buku-Larrnggay Mulka,

Warlukurlangu, Warmun, Warlayirti, and others. The collectors observe, "As we learned

more about the history and culture of Indigenous Australians, we also learned of the great

historical injustices that had been visited upon them, and saw how those injustices were

being played out in the contemporary art market, where unscrupulous, unethical dealers

exploited the poverty that the artists lived in to enrich themselves. We therefore

endeavored to deal insofar as possible directly with the community art centers that are

owned by Aboriginal people themselves and with their representatives in major

metropolitan galleries." Owen presently publishes a weekly blog, Aboriginal Art and

Culture: An American Eye, which he began in 2005.

The collectors were lenders to the very well-received 2006 exhibition Dreaming Their

Way: Contemporary Aboriginal Women Painters and took part in related programming

while the show was on display at the Hood Museum of Art. Based on that experience and

the prospects for their collection's use at a teaching museum like the Hood, they decided

to make Dartmouth College the home of their collection. "We were greatly impressed by

the way in which the Hood Museum of Art treated the works as contemporary art rather

than as ethnographic evidence," they recall. "We were further impressed by the reaction of

the Dartmouth community, by the way the faculty brought their classes to the show, and

by the enthusiastic response to the art by the students. We felt that we had filled in the

final piece of our program: to find a permanent home where the fruits of our collecting

would be used to further the study of Aboriginal culture and to preserve the great legacy of

these modern masters." At the Hood, this collection will be used to engage faculty and

students, and the broader college community, in the process of teaching and learning with

objects, and to inform the study of art, anthropology, curation, and social history at the


Dr. Brian Kennedy, Director of the Hood Museum of Art (and Director of the National

The Owen and Wagner Collection

of Australian Aboriginal Art

Gallery of Australia from 1997 to 2004), comments, "Australian Aboriginal art has been

the focus of a sequence of museum shows in the United States over recent years. The

future is very bright for this art making tradition, as a celebration of the strength of

Australian Aboriginal cultures that, aside from being startlingly beautiful, is culturally

profound and enriching." The Hood has scheduled a major exhibition and publication

about the Owen and Wagner Collection for spring/summer 2012.

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  • : Le blog de la galerie Arts d'Australie • Stéphane Jacob, Paris
  • Le blog de la galerie Arts d'Australie • Stéphane Jacob, Paris
  • : Stéphane Jacob, diplômé de l'Ecole du Louvre, spécialiste de l'art australien contemporain, Expert C.N.E.S. en art aborigène, a créé en 1996 la galerie Arts d'Australie · Stephane Jacob en France à Paris dans le XVIIe arrondissement.Expert en art aborigène.Membre de la Chambre Nationale des Experts Spécialisés en Objets d’Art et de Collection (C.N.E.S.)Membre du Comité Professionnel des Galeries d'ArtSignataire de la Charte d’éthique australienne Indigenous Art Code / www.artsdaustralie.com
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