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Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Photo by Tara Ebes

1910–1996

Kngwarreye 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, Kngwarreye 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.

Kngwarreye 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 Kame Kngwarreye
  • Birth

    Utopia Station, Australia, 1910
  • Death

    Utopia Station, Australia, 1996
  • Phonetic Spelling

    EHM-ih-lee kuhm koom-WAH-ree

Works by Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Yam Story ’96

Emily Kame Kngwarreye painted expressive representations of the Dreaming, the English word used to describe the Australian Aboriginal cosmology, which includes narratives about ancestral spirits who created the universe. Like other contemporary painters, Kngwarreye developed an abstract visual language that alludes to these narratives. Many of her works reference the wild yam (kame) Dreaming of which she was a senior...

Abstract painting of long, layered brushstrokes in shades of red, pink, orange and white, laid over a black background. The brushstrokes intersect, weave together, and overlap, creating a frenzied web of lines.