From Publishers Weekly
Australia's Aborigines, who have lived on that continent for at least 40,000 years, were until recently considered extremely "primitive." Today, anthropologists recognize their complex social patterns and rich cosmology, their centuries-old contacts with Melanesians and Indonesians, their pioneering of human cremation, rock art, tools and grindstones. So too with Aboriginal artit is slowly gaining recognition as one of the world's great artistic traditions. The Dreamtime of the Aborigines' bark paintings, acrylics, ceremonial objects and sculptures is both the sacred, life-giving dimension of the present and the realm in which ancestral spirits roam the landscape. Sutton, an anthropologist with the South Australian Museum, led a team of experts to put together this astonishing, gorgeous book and the landmark traveling exhibition it showcases. Works reproduced range from geometrical dreamscapes with startling similarities to modern abstract art, through mythic, psychological and erotic symbolism, to contemporary reworkings of the Aboriginal aesthetic in rugs, posters, ceramics and photography.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Lavishly illustrated and beautifully produced, these oversized volumes marking Australia's bicentennial both highlight Australian scholarship and introduce Western audiences to the history of an intriguing art and culture that link the present with humankind's origins. All three books offer authoritative essays discussing form, media, style, meaning, and significance as well as the cultural, economic, and political context of producing art. And all three share a respectful approach toward the aborigines, whose nonmaterialist culture produced a rich aesthetic integrating artistic, spiritual, social, and intellectual systems. Dreamings , an exhibition catalog published jointly by The Asia Society Galleries and the South Australia museum, explores aboriginal art forms based on a belief in the "Dreaming" or "Dreamtime." This spiritual event, infusing the present as well as the past, dates from a time when Ancestral Beings roamed the world and shaped the formless landscape into the distinctive plant and animal life of the isolated continents. Imagery in bark paintings, sculpture, shields, and acrylics shows where aborigines have lived and traveled and how they have experienced the Beings. The Art of the First Fleet , published in association with the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the British Museum (Natural History), reproduces the original visual materials created during the first decade of the British settlement of New South Wales, as rendered by three members of the Sirius, one of the original 11 British ships that explored Australia in 1788. These materials have aesthetic, historical, and taxonomic importance. They are the first European depictions of Australian aborigines, and as the earliest drawings of certain plants, birds, mammals, and fishes, they established the formal description and naming of the flora and fauna. Baudin in Australian Waters similarly describes the works of two artists, C.A. Lesueur and N.M. Petit, who sailed with Capt. Nicolas Baudin's French voyage in 1800-04 and pictorially recorded the expedition's scientific endeavors and the changes in environment wrought by colonial development. This illustrated catalog of drawings and watercolors of native subjects (found in the Lesueur Collection at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Le Havre, France) combines scientific detail, accuracy, and design values. It is fascinating to compare contemporary British and French depictions of the same subject. Recommended as important resources for Australian art, culture, and history. Robin Kaplan, The Information Group, Los Angeles
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.