This month's ARTnews features "The Rise of Aboriginal Art". Carly Berwick writes a nice article highlighting the inspirations behind the genre and the genesis and growth of the contemporary movement.
In Ms. Berwick's article, there is a one-line mention of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection owned by the University of Virginia. Only one line… deep in the story.
For those of you who don't know... Influenced by the Dreamings exhibition in New York, businessman John W. Kluge began collecting Aboriginal art in 1988. Over the next decade he compiled one of the finest private collections of Australian Aboriginal art in the world. In 1997, Mr. Kluge gifted his collection to the University of Virginia and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection at the University of Virginia was born. Today, the Collection stands (in its own building many miles from the main campus) as the largest and finest collection of Aboriginal art in the United States.
Pretty impressive. But, why the University of Virginia doesn't loudly trumpet the existence of this gem is beyond me.
Recently, the University of Virginia Art Museum has made efforts and spent a lot of money in refreshing its image and facility (as part of the "Campaign for the new UVaM"). Why the University hasn't taken this opportunity to brand itself as having the top rated permanent collection of Aboriginal art outside of Australia is, again, beyond me. This should be the identity of the art museum! If ARTnews can identify the importance of this art movement, why can't the scholars at UVa? It's contemporary. It's fresh. It's unique. It's rare in this hemisphere. It's important. It's marketable. It's beautiful. Simple, right?.