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
2022 ‘Emily : Desert painter of Australia’, Gagosian Paris, France
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
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.
Selected Group Exhibitions
2022 Rhythms of the Earth, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Australia
2021 ‘Aboriginalities’, Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels, Belgium
2020 ‘Origins: Australian Aboriginal Art from the SmithDavidson Collection’, SmithDavidson Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2019 DESERT PAINTERS OF AUSTRALIA: Works from the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia and the Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield, Gagosian Gallery, New York & Beverley Hills, United States
2019 ZONA MACO, SmithDavidson Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico
2018 Expo Chicago, SmithDavidson Gallery, Chicago, USA
2015 La Biennale di Venezia, Central Pavilion, Venice, Italy
2015 ‘Signs and Traces: Contemporary Aboriginal Art’, Cultural Institute Zamek, Poznan, Poland
2010 ‘Remembering Forward: Australian Aboriginal Painting since 1960’, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
1997 La Biennale di Venezia, Australian Pavillion, Venice, Italy
1994 National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
1993/4 ‘Aratjara: Art of the First Australians’, Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany; Hayward Gallery, London; 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
Born in Utopia, Central Desert on November 30th, 1909
Died in Utopia on September 2nd, 1996