What exactly is Papunya Tula artwork, and how did one end up on Beyoncé’s adored Instagram?

A recent Beyoncé Instagram post focuses on a rich history of indigenous art, capturing the attention of the Pope Megastar’s 193 million followers.

Since it was published last week, the post has received over 3.5 million likes. However, many people have pointed out that the photograph honours one of the birthplaces of indigenous contemporary art.

Here’s what helped one of the world’s biggest living pop stars bring the Western Desert art movement to the world’s attention — and an opportunity to buy it by rapper’s husband.

What’s Wrong with Her Instagram Post

The background of a painting by Yukultji Napangati, an artist from the western desert, was identified by art connoisseurs of some of Beyoncé’s decor.

Ms Napangati and her work are now Insta-famous thanks to Beyoncé.

The Western desert artist is associated with Papunya Tula, an indigenous and managed art centre whose artists live in small remote communities throughout central Australia.

So is it the painting that catched the followers

Western Desert Art has been recognised for changing indigenous peoples’ perceptions of art. It all started in the early 1970s in Papunya, a remote Aboriginal community north-west of Alice Springs.

Groundbreaking artworks, some of which were recycled, fetched exorbitant prices at auction and are now housed in prize-winning collections in galleries and even at Parliament House. Western Desert art catches the eye of contemporary galleries all over the world, and it isn’t cheap, with pieces regularly fetching tens of thousands of dollars.

How did it get there?

Of course, Jay-Z is involved. Jay-Z purchased the painting in New York two years ago during a solo exhibition of Ms Napangati’s work.

“Who is Jay-Z?” we inquired. “It wasn’t until the gallery owner said, ‘Oh, that’s not bad sales, then,’ that he married Beyoncé.”

According to Mr Sweeney, Beyoncé is not the first celebrity to notice Papunya Tula art. Steve Martin is a big fan of art.

“I believe the work has been validated and placed in that area; it has been applauded and appreciated on a global scale,” Mr. Sweeney said. In the last decade, there has been a Renaissance led by rising female stars such as Ms. Napangati.


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