Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri

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Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (perhaps better known as Clifford Possum; c.1932—21 June 2002) was an Australian artist. He is considered one of the foremost Aboriginal painters of the Dot Art painting school (a styling of painting in acrylics made famous by indigenous painters of the Northern Territory). Possum came to the attention of the art world in the 1970s; there has been a renewed interest in his work since his death.

Beginning in 1971, schoolteacher Geoffrey Bardon encouraged his pupils to record their ephemeral body and sand painting. Adult men later began to do this type of painting as well, painting some of the stories and images from the aboriginal storytelling form known as The Dreamtime. Already an expert woodcarver and a talented painter, Possum joined the nascent art movement and distinguished himself. His work is considered an important bridge between Western and Indigenous Art.

Warlugulong, a major Possum work, sold by Sotheby's at auction in 2007, currently holds the record for an aboriginal painting (AUD 2.4 million). The Australian National Gallery purchased the artwork.

In October, 2011, Sotheby's announced that they would auction an acrylic-on-board painting believed to be by Possum without authenticating it by provenance or scientific means, due to the danger of damage.[1]


  1. Delany, Ella. Ancient Art Lost in Confusion, The New York Times, 4 November 2011.