Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection features contemporary painting and sculpture by Australian Aboriginal artists. Curated by Pamela McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art at the Seattle Art Museum, the exhibition celebrates the renaissance that has occurred since the 1970s within the millennia-old traditions of indigenous Australian art.

Aboriginal people gained increased power and visibility in the late 1960s, following decades of grassroots activism. Since then, many artists have translated motifs from traditional art forms, such as rock and body painting, to media that can be more easily shared with viewers around the world. Their sculptures, large, colorful canvases, and intricately patterned bark strips and hollow logs bear symbols that communicate beliefs and histories, laws and rituals, and a profound connection to the land.

This exhibition will be on view in our Butler Gallery, located on the ground floor of the museum.

When visiting the exhibition, tag your experience on social media with #AncestralModern

Members of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are respectfully advised that some of the artists featured in this exhibition have passed away.

Learn more about “The Language of Symbols in Ancestral Modern” from our Blog.
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The e-catalogue for Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection can be accessed below, courtesy of the Seattle Art Museum.

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Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Seattle Art Museum.

It was made possible by the generosity of Mrs. Donald M. Cox, the Wolfensohn Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Support for this exhibition at the Blanton is provided in part by Ellen and David Berman.

The Blanton presentation is organized by Claire Howard, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Blanton Museum of Art

Image credit:

Tommy Mitchell
Walu, 2008 (detail)
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
40 x 60 in.
Promised gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan to the Seattle Art Museum
© Tommy Mitchell
Courtesy American Federation of Arts