Collection: Kathleen Petyarre

Born: c1940-2018
Region: Utopia
Language: Anmatjerre

Kathleen passed away 24th of November 2018.
She will always remain part of the Corroboree Dream Art family and will be sadly be missed.

Kathleen Petyarre was born in 1940 at the remote location of Atnangkere, an important water soakage for Aboriginal people on the western boundary of Utopia Station, 150 miles north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. She is one of the most eminent Australian Aboriginal artists, known for her paintings displaying an extremely refined layering technique with intricate dotting. Her art refers directly to her country and her Dreamings, concepts that may be difficult to grasp for the non-Aboriginal viewer.

She belongs to the Alyawarre/Eastern Anmatyerre clan and speaks Eastern Anmatyerre, with English as her second language. Kathleen, with her daughter Margaret and her sisters, settled at Iylenty (Mosquito Bore) on Utopia Station near her birthplace. She started working in batik in 1977 when an adult education instructor, Jenny Green, arrived in Utopia and organised batik workshops. In 1996 she was the winner of the 13th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Controversy arose in 1997 when Petyarre’s estranged partner of ten years, Ray Beamish, claimed that he had had a hand in the execution of the winning painting. This controversy, which shook the Aboriginal art market at the time, resulted in much stricter emphasis being put on the documentation of authorship in Aboriginal paintings.

Kathleen Petyarre’s name was eventually cleared, and she retained her award. Her considerable reputation as one of the most original indigenous artists has since been confirmed nationally and internationally by her regular inclusion in exhibitions at the most reputed museums and galleries. A book about her art, ‘Genius of Place’, was published in 2001 in conjunction with a solo exhibition of her works at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and her paintings can be found in public and private collections all over the world. Her work has been selected, along with just a handful of Aboriginal artists, for inclusion in the permanent collection of the new Musée du quai Branly in Paris. The last few years, from about 2003-2004 onwards, have seen a bolder style emerge, with clusters of larger dots and stronger lines alongside the very fine textures for which the artist is known.

While this style has been decried in some quarters as being less refined, it has also been hailed as being a logical artistic development towards a more powerful and dramatic mode of expression, ‘perhaps more abstract, certainly more modern in its technicality and presentation’ Kathleen Petyarre is one of the most sought-after living Aboriginal artistsShe has been repeatedly nominated by the influential journal Australian Art Collector as being among ‘the 50 most collectable artists in Australia’. She has several sisters who are also well-known artists, among them Gloria Petyarre, Violet Petyarre, Myrtle Petyarre and Jeannie Petyarre. However, it is Kathleen’s works that consistently show the highest degree of innovation and are in the greatest demand, and they tend to fetch the highest prices at auctions (record price to date: $80,000 at Deutscher-Menzies 25 March 2009 for ‘Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming’, 2008.

1996 Overall Winner of the Telstra 13th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, NT, Australia
1997 Overall Winner of the Visy Board Art Prize, the Barossa Vintage Festival Art Show, Nurioopta SA, Australia
1998 Finalist, Seppelt Contemporary Art Awards 1998 – Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, Australia
1998 Winner, People’s Choice Award, Seppelt Contemporary Art Awards 1998, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Solo exhibitions
2008 Kathleen Petyarre, Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2004 Old Woman alex award , Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2003 Ilyenty – Mosquito Bore, Recent Paintings, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2001 Genius of Place: The Work of Kathleen Petyarre, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, Australia
2000 Landscape, Truth and Beauty – Recent Paintings by Kathleen Petyarre, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
1999 Recent Painting by Kathleen Petyarre, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney, Australia
1998 Arnkerrthe – My Dreaming, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne Australia
1996 Kathleen Petyarre: Storm in Aknangkerre Country, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

Selected group exhibitions
2007 Gallery Anthony Curtis, Boston MA, USA
2007 Galerie Rigassi, Bern, Switzerland
2006 Prism – Contemporary Australian Art, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
2006 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA
2006 Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA
2006 Galerie Clément, Vevey, Switzerland
2002 Gallerie Commines, Paris, France
2000 New Directions in Contemporary Aboriginal Painting, Songlines Gallery, San Francisco, USA
2000 Kathleen Petyarre, Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, Australia
1995 Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany
1991 Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland
1989 Aboriginal Art from Utopia, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Australia

Major Collections
Royal Collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France
Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France
AAMU Museum for Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Utrecht, The Netherlands
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia[
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Collection, Australia
Edith Cowan University, Perth Australia
Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide, Australia
Royal Palace Museum, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, USA
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA
Riddock Regional Art Gallery, Mount Gambier, Australia
Essl Collection, Vienna, Austria
BHP Billiton Collection, Melbourne, Australia
Holmes à Court Collection, Perth, Australia
The Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, California, USA
Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth, Australia
Levi-Kaplan Collection, Seattle, Washington, USA
University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Adelaide Festival Centre Trust Collection, Adelaide, Australia
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, USA (permanent loan)
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia (permanent loan)
Biebuyck Family Collection, Boston, Massachusetts