Emily Kame Kngwarreye

ca. 1910–1996

Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye was a senior member of the Anmatyerre language group in Utopia, an isolated desert region in central Australia.

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.

National Museum of Women in the Arts