We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Kelud volcano eruption no.4 (Riverbed filled with lava and pumice showing small craters caused by still boiling hot lava and mud underneath)



Ohannes Kurkdjian

Armenia, Indonesia

1851 – 1903

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Java Indonesia
    Media category
    Materials used
    gelatin silver photograph
    23.1 x 17.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Robert Dein 2021
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Ohannes Kurkdjian

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Ohannes Kurkdjian, was born in a small Armenian town in the Ottoman Empire and was a photographer in the Russian army before moving to Indonesia in 1886. In 1890 he established a studio in Surabaya from where he produced portraits, landscapes and ethnographic studies. His most memorable works reveal a profound engagement with the precarious peaks of Java’s fiery volcanoes. Kurkdjian’s photographs of the Mount Kelud eruption of May 1901 are imbued with an awe for nature’s sublime power to both inspire and wreak havoc. Within Javanese culture of the time the fiery eruption was seen as a symbol of a new dawn also marked by the birth, just a month later of Sukarno, who was to become Indonesia’s first president. For many, these events were prophetic of great change that would free Indonesia from its Dutch colonisers and return it to a state of cosmic order.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Elemental, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Jul 2022–2024

  • Provenance

    Robert Dein, 1990s-Dec 2021, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased from a London based dealer in the 1990s. Donated to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Dec 2021.

Other works by Ohannes Kurkdjian

See all 12 works