The pursuit of cultural authenticity in Aboriginal art will make it harder for young artists to enjoy the success of the old masters.
New research into the sustainability of Aboriginal art claims the market for new works is already falling away, even for sought-after artists, because some indigenous works are still being treated as ethnographic objects.
A paper by Melbourne academic Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios says major artists such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Rover Thomas, are promoted as Aboriginal in a way that Pablo Picasso would not be labelled Spanish.
“To secure the future of the Aboriginal art market, it needs to expand and evolve so that a new generation of artists is cultivated and they are accepted as contemporary practitioners,” she writes.
“Marketing the first generation of Aboriginal desert painters as the genuine ethnographic article has the corollary effect of initiating a spiral of redundancy that makes it increasingly difficult to promote subsequent generations of Aboriginal artists.”