Seeing the Centre: The Art of Albert Namatjira 1902-1959
Alison French National Gallery of Australia, 2002 – 176 pages
In 1951, a small, blue envelope reached the post office in Alice Springs, addressed to "Albert Namatjira, Famous Aboriginal Artist, Australia".
It had been posted in India by an autograph hunter whose confidence in its delivery was not unreasonable, given the accurate description of the intended recipient. Namatjira was indeed famous; he was also Aboriginal, and a pre-eminent artist. After the success of his first solo show in Melbourne in 1938, Namatjira increasingly became "public property".
Born at the dawn of the new century, his life spanned periods of radical change. Today - a hundred years later, at the birth of the new millennium - Namatjira, once a national symbol, has become a scapegoat of both the social politics of the time and its aesthetic prejudices, his work virtually ignored by the mainstream Australian art world.
Especially commissioned for the centenary of his birth by the Gordon Darling Foundation and the NGA, this publication provides the opportunity to redress this neglect.
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