Aboriginal Australian Bark Paintings

crocodile-x-ray
Crocodile in X-ray by Naguljilmi
1 of 23
two-turtles-and-two-echidnas
Two turtles and two echidnas
2 of 23
geometric-pattern
Geometric pattern by Dick Nulmarmar
3 of 23
wuyal-spirit-men-and-rock-wallabies
Wuyal - spirit men and rock wallabies
4 of 23
snakes-and-crocodiles
Snakes and crocodiles
5 of 23
bird-snake-lizards-and-fish
Bird, snake, lizards, and fish
6 of 23
geometric-pattern-0
Geometric pattern
7 of 23
wawilak-sisters-story
Wawilak Sisters Story by Lipundja
8 of 23
four-human-figures-and-kangaroo
Four human figures and a kangaroo
9 of 23
lizards-and-fish
Lizards and fish
10 of 23
two-human-figures
Two human figures
11 of 23
three-human-figures-two-birds-and-two-snakes
Three human figures, two birds, and two snakes
12 of 23
manarrnu-mortuary-practices
Manarrnu mortuary practices
13 of 23
kangaroo-x-ray
Kangaroo in X-ray
14 of 23
fish
Fish by Peter Nambarridj
15 of 23
wamba-the-swamp-bird
Wamba the Swamp Bird
16 of 23
three-suns-and-three-human-figures
Three suns and three human figures by Larrtjungga
17 of 23
anteater
Anteater
18 of 23
eight-human-figures
Eight human figures
19 of 23
two-rodents-and-two-butterflies
Two rodents and two butterflies
20 of 23
fish-0
Fish by Mijau Mijau
21 of 23
opossum-tree-story
Opossum tree story by Narritjin
22 of 23
murrujun-mortuary-rites
Murrujun Mortuary Rites
23 of 23

View the entire gallery or click on the above images to enlarge.

On a continent first settled by maritime peoples roughly 50,000 years ago, Australia’s aboriginal peoples still practice one of the world’s oldest continuous artistic traditions. Australian rock art is some of the most spectacular in the world. Today these ancient artistic traditions live on in a variety of media and motifs, including the polychrome bark paintings of Arnhem Land—imbued with both myth and mystery. For many years, the traditional arts of the Australian Aboriginal people were of interest primarily as anthropological or ethnographic curiosities. In the 1960s, however, these remarkable bark paintings featuring natural pigments applied to flattened eucalyptus bark panels captured the imagination of international collectors and curators. These beautiful works are now found in the finest art museums and private collections around the world. The UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History is proud to have 23 Aboriginal bark paintings in its global ethnographic collections, all of which are depicted in this web gallery of photos by Steve Wilkinson. These wonderful artworks were gifts from Jane and Robert Gehring, Hayasdan Wallace, and Ashley Foster. Text by Jon Erlandson and web development by Keith Hamm. Images © UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Production of this gallery was generously supported by The Ford Family Foundation.

Further Reading:

Allen, Louis A.
1975    Time Before Morning: Art and Myth of the Australian Aborigines. Thomas Crowell Co., New York.

Caruana, Wally.
1993    Aboriginal Art. Thames and Hudson, New York.

Flood, Josephine.
1997    Rock Art of the Dreamtime: Images of Ancient Australia. HarperCollins Publishers, New York.