Journal of Intercultural Studies
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This paper critiques three schools of international art scholarship and their relevance to Australian Aboriginal art from remote communities. These schools are primitivism, histories of ornament and aesthetic theory. This is with a view to looking beyond accounts of Aboriginal art as representational, and toward a cross-cultural and sensual account of its practice. While primitivism influenced the scholarship on high art, histories of ornament and aesthetic theory offer new approaches to this art, and new ways of thinking about Aboriginal painting. The paper partly argues that the extensive influence of primitivism has prevented these latter areas of study in having much impact on the study of Aboriginal art, as critics attend to the inequitable relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous societies. Instead, the interest of ornament and cross- cultural aesthetics in the visual rather than socio-economic and postcolonial conditions of artistic production conceives of a more equitable exchange between cultures, and a revised account of modern visual practices.