The buzz of the 1920's European art scene with its multiplicity of avant garde movements such as Dadaism, Futurism and Constructivism is being replicated in a different time and place - in Australia's Indigenous communities today - according to an art historian at The University of Western Australia.
Dr Darren Jorgensen of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts, said while the movements were totally different and unnamed, there was a similar excitement as Indigenous artists experimented with new ways of expression.
Dr Jorgensen has recently been granted funding for his project: Establishing Conditions for the Success of Remote Indigenous Artists. His work will involve assessing the impact of the art centres where many Indigenous artists work, studying their records and examining the relationship between the artists and the centres.
"I also want to find out what impact national galleries and publications, such as books about artists, have on the success of Indigenous artists' careers," Dr Jorgensen said. "What makes one artist successful and another not?"
He explained while art historians understood the conditions that enabled the success, some of it posthumous, of well-known artists such as Jackson Pollock, Frans Hals, Van Gogh, Turner and Rembrandt, there had not been a study of Indigenous Australian artists whose work, until recently, had been in the domain of anthropologists.
Dr Jorgensen will research the careers of four remote Indigenous artists, starting in February with Tiwi Island artist Jean Baptiste Apuatimi who, he said, made original Tiwi designs more interesting.
"I hope the project will be useful for identifying strategies for making artists successful; for mapping overall trends in the Indigenous art industry; and for correlating relationships between the commercial, institutional, critical and community aspects of the art," he said.