Today we take a sideways, chromatic look at two exhibitions on opposite sides of the Atlantic that are currently examining the art, culture and experience of two indigenous cultures from two very different continents.
Above: Pukara, Roy Underwood, Lennard Walker, Simon Hogan and Ian Rictor, Acrylic on canvas, Western Australia, 2013.
© the artists, courtesy Spinifex Arts Project
The new exhibition Indigenous Australia at The British Museum and The Plains Indians at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York both feature art from the indigenous people of Australia and North America respectively. Both exhibitions present the artistic legacies of these cultures up until the present day, featuring not just works from the beginnings of these ancient societies but also work created in the 20th century by Aboriginal and Native American artists. Both cultures drew heavily on the natural world, not just for the distinctive pigments and materials in the work, but also harnessing the spiritual and symbolic power of the landscape around them. Below we take two pieces from each exhibition and take a look at the earthy, organic colours at their heart.
Above left: Shield with Buffalo Bull and Thunderbird, 1800-1825, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago (71765). Swatches: Print Room Yellow, James White, Pitch Black. Above Right: Pearl shell pendant with dancing figures. Kimberley region, Western Australia, before 1926. © The Trustees of the British Museum
Above: Detail from Yumari, Uta Uta Tjangala, 1981. Photograph: National Museum of Australia. Swatches: Incarnadine, Red Earth, London Clay, Charlotte’s Locks
Above: Parfleche Envelope, ca. 1865, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago (67468). Swatches: Stone Blue, Archive, India Yellow, Pitch Black
Indigenous Australia runs at The British Museum until 2 August 2015.
The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky runs until 10 May at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.