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Old Masters: Australias Great Bark Artists showcases the work of Aboriginal painters from Arnhem Land who carry one of the oldest continuing traditions of art into the modern era.

The international version of the Old Masters exhibition is touring China in 2019.

Aboriginal paintings in ochre colours, showing a stylised crocodile with its tail curving around its head. - click to view larger image
Totemic Crocodile, 1965, by Yirawala, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection. National Museum of Australia

The original exhibition was on show at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra from 6 December 2013 to 20 July 2014.

Artists

Old Masters celebrates the genius and art of 40 master bark artists including Narritjin Maymuru, Yirawala, Mawalan Marika and their contemporaries.

Bark paintings

This website showcases 122 works from the National Museum’s collection, the largest in the world. The paintings are organised into three stylistic regions:

  • western Arnhem Land, where figurative images predominate
  • eastern Arnhem Land, where the emphasis is on geometric and conventionalised imagery
  • central Arnhem Land, where artists tend to combine both approaches.

All these bark paintings are part of the National Museum of Australia’s collection. © the artist or the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency 2013, unless otherwise specified. These images must not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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