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David Corby Tjapaltjarri

David Corby Tjapaltjarri was one of the youngest members of the Western desert Aboriginal art movement.

In the early part of his career, he painted on composition board in muted ochred colors. His Early paintings often being less than 50 cm x 50 cm.

David Corby Tjapaltjarri later works are on Canvass and maintain a very high standard. His later paintings often use very bright vibrant colors.

The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their Aboriginal painting is by David Corby. It compares examples of his work. It also gives some background to the life of this fascinating artist.

If you have a David Corby Tjapaltjarri Aboriginal painting to sell please contact me. If you want to know what your David Corby Tjapaltjarri painting is worth please feel free to send me a Jpeg. I would love to see it.

David Corby Tjapaltjarri Early years


David Corby was the born around 1940 in the sandhill country northwest of Vaughan Springs, in Warlpiri territory. Like Billy Stockman Kaapa and Long Jack he worked as a stockman as a young man and then moved to Papunya. In Papunya, he worked as a medical auxiliary.


In 1971 Geoff Bardon became a local school teacher at Papunya primary. He tried to encourage local children to paint in their own traditional style. When he was told only older men could paint these stories he decided to start a men’s painting group.


David Corby was one of the youngest men to join this group. His early works are in muted ochred tones and depict Budgerigar, Wallaby, Emu and Witchetty Grub Dreamings. He painted on board while seated rotating the board. This gives the center of his early paintings a concentrated focus.

He was not as prolific as many other artists in the group.

Although we know David was painting before 1972 his earliest known work is from 1973.

He was skin brother of another important painter Tim Leura

Later Painting

His later paintings were more colorful but retained their intensity and precise linework.

He was an artist-in-residence at Flinders University in South Australia with Turkey Tolson in 1979. He traveled with aboriginal art exhibitions to New Zealand and Nigeria.

His short life was brought to an end when, in January 1981, he drowned in a flooded creek near Mbungara. He was traveling back to Papunya where he had just been made Chairman of the Papunya Tula artists.

Early Papunya Artworks and Articles

All images in this article are for educational purposes only.

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David Corby Tjapaltjarri Images

The following images are not the complete known work by this artist but give a good idea of his style and range.

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