Urgent Museum Notice

Emily Kam Kngwarray

An older woman with dark skin tone wears an eggplant-colored scarf around her head and a yellow shirt squinting at the camera.

Photo by Tara Ebes

1910 to 1996

Kngwarray began painting on canvas in her late seventies after decades of ritual artistic activity and batik fabric painting. Unlike most desert painters at the time, Kngwarray did not use stylized representations of animal tracks or concentric circles in her designs. Instead, she employed richly layered brushstrokes or dabs throughout her abstract compositions. Her free handling of paint using various implements, keen sense of color, and dynamic compositions earned her international fame.

Kngwarray was also extremely prolific, executing an estimated three thousand paintings in an eight-year period. Her work received immediate attention from critics, collectors, and fellow artists, and she was represented posthumously in the 1997 Venice Biennale.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Emily Kam Kngwarray
  • Birth

    Utopia Station, Australia, 1910
  • Death

    Utopia Station, Australia, 1996
  • Phonetic Spelling

    EHM-ih-lee kuhm koom-WAH-ree
  • NMWA Exhibitions

    • Trove: The Collection in Depth, 2011
    • Dreaming Their Way: Australian Aboriginal Women Painters, 2006