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This book investigates how identities have been constructed in Australian art from 1788 onwards. Ian McLean shows that Australian art, and the writing of its history, has, since settlement, been in a dialogue (although often submerged) with Aboriginal art and culture; and that this dialogue is inextricably interwoven with the struggle to find an identity in the antipodes. Beginning with a discussion of how Australia was imagined by Europeans before colonisation, McLean traces the representation of indigeneity through the history of Australian art, and the concomitant invention of an Australian subjectivity. He argues that the colonising culture invested far more in indigenous aspects of the country and its inhabitants than it has been willing to admit. McLean considers artists and their work within a cultural context, and also provides a contemporary theoretical and critical context for his claims.
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Table of Contents

Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Ocean and the Antipodes; 2. Artful killings; 3. The art of settlement; 4. The bad conscience of impressionism; 5. Aboriginalism and Australian nationalism; 6. The Aboriginal renaissance; 7. Aboriginality and contemporary Australian painting; 8. Painting for a new republic; Postscript: The wandering islands; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

Reviews

Review of the hardback: 'White Aborigines is a revealing and inspirational book ...' George Menham, The Australian National Review

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