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Pizzi, Gabrielle (1940 - 2004)

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
5 December 2004
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Gallery Owner and Art Collector
Alternative Names
  • Wren, Gabrielle (maiden name)


Gabrielle Pizzi, fanatical Collingwood Football Club supporter and granddaughter of the colourful Melbourne, Australia, identity John Wren, was one of the driving forces behind the acceptance of indigenous art in the wider community. In the early 1980s, Pizzi argued that Aboriginal art should not be trivialised as 'tribal' or 'primitive' but, instead, should be regarded as an integral part of the modern movement. She made it her life's mission to have Aboriginal art accepted as powerful contemporary art, bringing the dynamic works of artists including Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri and Emily Kam Kngwarray to world audiences by organising exhibitions in such unlikely places as Bangalore, Kiev and Jerusalem.

Pizzi began exhibiting Aboriginal art in Melbourne in the early 1980s, when there was still resistance to accepting it as a valid form of contemporary art. In 1987, she opened the Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi on Flinders Lane with an exhibition of cutting-edge Western Desert art. Unlike some later, exploitative dealers who capitalised on the boom she helped to create, Pizzi was known for her integrity. She always worked with art advisers from community art centres, ensuring that artists were paid correctly and new artists supported.

Sources used to compile this entry: Gabriella Coslovich, 'Farewell to a Trailblazer', The Age, 7 December, 2004; Philip Jones, 'Gabrielle Pizzi, Gallery owner, collector, 1940-2004', Sydney Morning Herald, 18 December, 2004.

Nikki Henningham

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