Aboriginal Art

Wally Caruana

Thames and Hudson 2003
A book review by Danny Yee © 2009 http://dannyreviews.com/
It includes a general introduction to Aboriginal art and its regional forms, and some biographical background on artists, but Wally Caruana's survey in Aboriginal Art keeps individual works of art to the fore.

Divided into chapters on Arnhem Land and nearby areas, the Western Desert, the Kimberley, Northern Queensland and the Torres Strait, and urban areas, over two hundred artworks are briefly described and placed in context. An example:

"Uta Uta Tjangala was an influential artist who lived in the area around Kintore. His The Old Man's Dreaming is another Tingari subject which concerns the punishment of a man who had a sexual affair with his mother-in-law. The painter has dispensed with many of the graphic symbolic elements. Joined circles represent sites visited in the saga, while the larger ovoids represent the rock formations at the site of Yumari. The powerful composition reflects the cataclysmic forces that created the landscape. Offsetting the summary elements is a meandering path that leads from a site to the figure of the Old Man, his body painted in designs."
Every work is illustrated with a photograph.

The photographs have been reordered for optimal use of space, which sometimes makes page leafing necessary. And fitting so many photographs into a relatively small format book means details can be hard to see. But the trade-off is an extensive range of illustrations and a volume that is a convenient size for reading — and Aboriginal Art is very much a book to be read, rather than stuck on a shelf as a reference.

January 2009

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Related reviews:
- books about Australia + Australian history
- books about art + art history
- books published by Thames and Hudson
%T Aboriginal Art
%A Caruana, Wally
%I Thames and Hudson
%D 2003
%O paperback, 2nd edition, photographs, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0500203660
%P 236pp