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Albert Namatjira (1902-1959)
A Macdonnell Range Creek 1944
watercolour
28.8 x 39.6 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1945

 

Born 1902, Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Northern Territory. Died 1959, Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

Western Arrente watercolourist, Albert Namatjira, is arguably Australia’s most iconic Indigenous artist who painted in a European style during the mid-twentieth century. While living on the Hermannsburg mission with his family (west of Alice Springs), he met and worked as a cameleer for watercolourist Rex Battarbee.

On their excursion to the Macdonnell Ranges in 1936, Namatjira – already a skilled drawer and carver – was introduced to watercolour painting. He soon began depicting the desert landscape in the free style and vibrancy for which he became widely recognised throughout Australia.

 In A Macdonnell Range Creek, Namatjira paints his country in signature blue-shadowed mountains framed by the ghostly gums that are now synonymous with the Hermannsburg School style.

In 1957 Namatjira became the first Aboriginal person to be granted conditional Australian citizenship. However, the short remainder of his life, caught between European and Indigenous worlds, was marked by despair. His success as an artist during his lifetime is considered pivotal to the emergence of contemporary Indigenous art movements in the 1970s and onwards.