Emily Kame Kngwarreye is without a doubt the most famous female Aboriginal artist to date. She may be considered one of the greatest contemporary Australian artists and her influence on the world of both indigenous and non-indigenous Australian art is indisputably great.
Emily was born around 1910 in Utopia, a community in the Central Desert, around 230 kilometres north east of Alice Springs. When Emily started painting in 1988, she was already almost 80 years old. All in all her painting career lasted no more than seven years, yet in this short time she achieved a fame and reputation that many artists who paint their entire lives can only dream of.
One of Emily's most remarkable achievements was her endless ability to create new styles. Most of her work can be distinguished by an exceptionally wide palette of bright colors, but her minimalist, abstract works with two colors, inspired by body paintings, also reflect a rare talent.
Outside of Australia her work increasingly receives the recognition it deserves. In 2008, the National Art Center in Tokyo opened the exhibition 'Utopia: the Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye,' the largest collection of works by a single Australian artist ever exhibited outside Australia, with an estimated value of no less than $30,000,000.
Her masterpiece 'Earth's Creation' (4 panels, each 275 x 160 cm) has been exhibited at the Central Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. In the same year her work was part of the Signs&Traces exhibition in Poznan, Poland.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2008 'Utopia: the Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye', National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia
2008 'Utopia: the Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye', Museum of Modern Art, Osaka; National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan
1994/6/7 Mbantua Gallery and Cultural Museum, Australia
1991 Gallery Savah, Sydney, Australia
1990/1/2 Hogarth Gallery, Sydney, Australia
Selected Group Exhibitions
2021 Aboriginalisties, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
2020 ORIGINS, Australian Aboriginal Art from the SmithDavidson Collection, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2019 Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art, SmithDavidson Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2019 ZONA MACO, SmithDavidson Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico
2018 East Meest West, SmithDavidson Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2018 EXPO Chicago, SmithDavidson Gallery, Chicago, USA
2018 Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi collection, Blanton Museum at the University of Texas at Austin, USA
2016: 'Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia', Harvard Art Museums, USA
2015 56th edition La Biennale di Venezia, Central Pavilion, Venice, Italy
2015 ‘Signs and Traces. Contemporary Aboriginal Art.’ Zamek Cultural Centre, Poznan, Poland
2011 'On Line: Drawing through the Twentieth Century', Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
2010 'Remembering Forward: Australian Aboriginal Painting since 1960', Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
1997 47th edition La Biennale di Venezia, Australian Pavilion, Venice, Italy
1994 National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
1993/4 'Aratjara: Art of the First Australians', Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany; Hayward Gallery, London, UK; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark
1992 Aboriginal Paintings from the Desert, touring Russia
1992 ‘Crossroads, Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia’, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan
1990 Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Carpenter Centre for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA
1989 Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Louie Pwerle are the first recipients of the CAAMA/Utopia Artists-in-Residence Project funded by the Robert Holmes à Court Foundation.
Born in Utopia, Central Desert on November 30th, 1909
Died in Utopia on September 2nd, 1996