– Highlights

Mca Collection

MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday

01 Sep - 31 Dec


Kader Attia

12 Apr - 30 Jul


Jenny Watson

05 Jul - 02 Oct

– Learning Events

Special Event

ARTBAR July 2017

28 Jul, 7.00pm, MCA


Art Safari

08 Aug, 1.00pm, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning



09 Aug, 6.30pm, Level 3: Digital Studio in NCCL

– News from inside the MCA

6 ways to warm up your winter at MCA

Got the winter blues? Melt them away at the MCA. more

Unmapping: Charting New Pathways to Creativity

Artist Educator Ella Condon created a site specific work for Unmapping – a student program run in collaboration with Sydney Story Factory and MCA. more

The Beats Behind Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy

Learn about the music and melodies that have inspired artist Jenny Watson through the decades. more

– Spotlights from the collection online

MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection

Collection Artist Interviews

Watch our latest interviews in the MCA Video Portal

Joint acquisitions by MCA and Tate

The Program promotes Australian art globally, helping Australian artists reach new audiences.

Komar & Melamid: When Elephants Paint

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


21 Jun 2001 to 19 Aug 2001

Curator: Russell Storer

about the exhibition

When Elephants Paint was an exhibition of paintings created by elephants from The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project (AEACP), an initiative by New York-based Russian conceptual artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid.

The AEACP was established by Komar and Melamid in 1997 as a means of raising awareness around the declining numbers of Asian elephants in countries such as Thailand, India and Indonesia. Komar and Melamid began a program of teaching elephants, in collaboration with their mahouts (trainers), to hold brushes and, using non-toxic paint, to paint on paper and canvas and create abstract works that could be promoted and distributed to raise awareness and funds for Asian elephants.

When Elephants Paint presented a range of works by elephants from Thailand, India and Bali, as well as one of Komar and Melamid’s earliest collaborative works with an elephant in the United States. The elephants’ paintings were available for sale in an on-line auction, with proceeds from the sale donated to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to assist elephant conservation projects across the Asia Pacific region. Included in the exhibition was a resource room providing information and background on Komar and Melamid’s career, the AEACP, interviews with supporters of the project and as-of then unseen footage of Asian elephants learning to paint.

Also included in the exhibition was a series of surreal photographs of Moscow’s Red Square taken by seven-year old Russian chimpanzee Mikki, who was taught to use various cameras by Komar and Melamid during the summer of 1998.

Tour Itinerary

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Vic: 1 – 30 September 2001