The Artists of Fitzroy Crossing.

The New Yorker last week had a long article on indigenous australian artists, which provided certain cautionary tales about the market, among other things. The aborigines have the longest continuous history of art making in the world, and they traditionally used that art making as extended symbolism, as a pictorial depiction of common stories. So the art was on the ground, caves, bodies and other organic sources, and it was painted using plant dyes, ochres and other natural media. In 1972, they made a rather smooth transition to acrylic on canvas, and these works amazed the west. They had gone from being worth 60 or 70 bucks to worth 100 of thousands. The aborigines get none of the money from secondary sales, they are broke and basically being exploited. Some of the best artists come from Fitzroy Crossing, and they created collectively a series of two paintings that explained all of the symbols of the tribe, (see each citizen of the tribe would get one story, and a way to depict that story, these paintings would combine all of the stories.) They had decided they should sell one or both of the paintings, so they could have money for health care, clean water, new buildings etc. (one artist gets a certain sum for his work, sometimes as much as 60k a year, but he doesn’t keep that money to himself, he gives it back to the community.)