The Essential Introduction to Aboriginal Art (25 Facts)

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Australian Aboriginal people and art. That’s why we made this introductory guide, which was created in collaboration with leading Aboriginal curator Nici Cumpston (Barkindji) and Aboriginal scholar Jilda Andrews (Yuwaalaraay).


Australian Aboriginal art and culture is the oldest continuous art tradition on the planet. In the last century it has also emerged as one of the world’s most important contemporary art movements. Whether on bark, canvas or in new media, Aboriginal artists have used art to express the power and beauty of their culture, across cultures: to show their enduring connection to, and responsibility for, ancestral lands and the continuity of their identities and beliefs.

In our increasingly global world, this ability to speak across borders without forsaking any of its distinctive identity makes Australian Aboriginal art some of the most innovative contemporary art being produced anywhere today.



1. Aboriginal people are diverse, and their art is too.

2. What materials do Indigenous Australian artists use?

3. Indigenous Australian art is sophisticated.

4. Indigenous Australian art is contemporary.

5. Indigenous Australian art is always changing.

6. What is the oldest Indigenous Australian art?

7. Where is Indigenous Australian art created?

8. A lot of Indigenous Australian art has to do with “country.”

9. What is the Dreaming?

10. What are some Indigenous Australian symbols and what do they mean?

11. Is it okay to use Indigenous Australian symbols in my own artwork?

12. Are Indigenous Australian paintings maps of land?

13. Why do Indigenous Australian artists use dots?

14. Do all Indigenous Australian artists use dots?

15. What happened at Papunya and why is it important?

16. What is an art center?

17. Who is Emily Kame Kngwarreye and why is she important?

18. When did Indigenous Australian art become famous?

19. Are Indigenous Australian artists making political art?

20. The stereotypes about Indigenous Australians tell an incomplete and untrue narrative.

21. What makes Indigenous Australian art authentic?

22. Where can I buy Indigenous Australian art?

23. Where can I see Indigenous Australian art in the United States?

24. What is the correct term: Aborigine, Aboriginal person, Aboriginal, Indigenous Australian?

25. How can I learn more about Indigenous Australian art and culture?