The life and times of Albert Namatjira
Melbourne : Badger Editions, 2021. Quarto (310 x 253 mm), laminated pictorial boards in illustrated dust jacket, pp. 448, extensively illustrated. Text by Ken McGregor, designed and edited by Jenny Zimmer. Printed in an edition of 1000 copies. New copy. Printed and produced entirely in Australia.
Destined to be regarded as the most authoritative, thoroughly researched and most comprehensively illustrated monograph on Namatjira for years to come, Ken McGregor’s eagerly-awaited The life and times of Albert Namatjira is an insightful study of the man and his art, produced in close consultation with the Namatjira family and Namatjira Legacy Trust.
The substantial text (which includes photographic illustrations) occupies the first 170 pages, and follows Namatjira from his early life at Hermannsburg and his ostracism for marrying a woman of the wrong skin group, to his association with Rex Battarbee and the development of a distinctive painting style which led to his first solo exhibition in Melbourne in 1938; it investigates the artist’s response to public acclaim and the consequences that ensued from commercial success, his struggles against bureaucracy and exploitation, and the sadness and alienation of his final days at Morris Soak.
The next 250 pages illustrate over 450 works from across Namatjira’s career chronologically (many of the key works are illustrated full-page) in three discrete sections: Catalogue of Works of the 1930s; Catalogue of Works of the 1940s; Catalogue of Works of the 1950s. These stunning colour plates are followed by two short chapters, Solo Exhibitions and Selected Group Exhibitions. There is also a bibliography and an index.
‘The words in this book are not written from a white man’s perspective nor a black man’s perspective, they are a truthful account of a very talented man living and working at a particular time in history’ – from the Foreword by Mervyn Rubuntja, Chairman, Iltja Ntjarra Art Centre and Independent Director, Namatjira Legacy Trust, Alice Springs.
‘Albert Namatjira is the reason non-Indigenous Australians started to recognise the work of Aboriginal artists. His paintings have become synonymous with our vision of the Australian outback, and he must be credited with pioneering contemporary Indigenous art.‘ (Ken McGregor)
Note: Profits from the sale of this book will go to support the Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre, Alice Springs.