Albert NamatjiraAustralian (1902-1959)
Albert Namatjira (28 July 1902 – 8 August 1959), born Elea Namatjira, was a Western Arrernte-speaking Aboriginal artist from the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia. As a pioneer of contemporary Indigenous Australian art, he was the most famous Indigenous Australian of his generation.Born and raised at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission outside Alice Springs, Namatjira showed interest in art from an early age, but it was not until 1934 (aged 32), under the tutelage of Rex Battarbee, that he began to paint seriously. Namatjira's richly detailed, Western art-influenced watercolours of the outback departed significantly from the abstract designs and symbols of traditional Aboriginal art, and inspired the Hermannsburg School of painting. He became a household name in Australia and reproductions of his works hung in many homes throughout the nation. As the first prominent Aboriginal artist to work in a modern idiom, at the time he was widely regarded as representative of successful assimilation policies.Namatjira was the first Northern Territory Aboriginal person to be freed from restrictions that made Aboriginal people wards of the State. In 1957, he became the first Aboriginal person to be granted restricted Australian citizenship, which allowed him to vote, have limited land rights and buy alcohol. In 1956 his portrait, by William Dargie, became the first of an Aboriginal person to win the Archibald Prize. Namatjira was also awarded the Queen's Coronation Medal in 1953, and was honoured with an Australian postage stamp in 1968.