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New Zealand ~ Art History ~ 211 Slides ~ Kiwi ~ Maori ~ Art

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New Zealand Art History ~ 211 Slides ~ Highly Visual & Annotated

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This is a complete presentation on New Zealand Art History which is highly visual and thoroughly annotated. My preview is 16 of the slides in the presentation for you to download. This will give you the best idea of what the product is like. There are also 4 pop up thumbnails which go with this listing and the below text excerpts.


The art in New Zealand is primarily of historical interest to the rest of the world until the twentieth century. The whites were settling the land in the 1800s and the art work records all of this in the white European way. The most usual way such an artist got to New Zealand was that the ship’s company hired him to record the journey. They were not looking for great creativity but rather faithful reproductions.

The Māori continued to do their art works in the 1800s but the two groups had no common art interest. The Māori idea of art was very practical as the whites colonized. The art had to be usable. They used it as soon as they created it. This did not make for Māori collections and museums in the 1800s or thereafter. Plus they worked in materials which perished, like wood carvings and weavings. (Their works done on rock, however, are still there.) It was gradual in the 20th century, the two groups taking notice of one another’s art.

There are three groups influencing the art in the country. They are the Māori, the Samoans and the whites derived from Europe. The Māori were in the country first whereas the Samoans are recent additions. They are all able to speak English to one another and are even trying to speak Māori to one another. They go to the same fine arts schools although native arts centers also remain.

This cultural hodge podge has been very invigorating in the arts. The hybrid art works are very inventive and creative and unlike other work. This came about in the latter part of the twentieth century and continues in this century.

New Zealand was very isolated while it was being settled. It had very slow communications and this affected how and when new styles of art came in to the country. For example, perhaps you will be studying a New Zealand painting and say to yourself, “Hey, I recognize that. It’s mostly Cubist.” You then look at the date and wonder why in the heck they waited decades to paint the cubist style rather than in 1906, when Braque and Picasso were doing it in Europe.

The answer is that it took a long time for news to get to these parts of the world and when it did, teaching instructions were not included. It took forever to get books, letters and papers to and from this South Pacific world. Everything came by boat half way around the world. When the art forms finally did get to New Zealand, it is because either someone moved there to show them how it was done, such as a university art teacher, or the New Zealand artist travelled to other countries to lean other methods. Making such a trip was a very long journey involving a lengthy stay.

As communications improved throughout the twentieth century, everyone could share their knowledge much easier. Long distance international calls went from slow and cumbersome to something no one even thinks about anymore. Telegrams? What are those? You do not board a ship either but instead board a plane. For example, if you are in L.A., you can can make it there in roughly 15 hours.

Or, skip all of this and just boot up one of your computer devices and visit the country electronically. All of the art collections in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington via their art museums are fully online. Their artists have websites. Their art schools have websites. Go ahead and email or skye with an artist or art student in New Zealand, for free no less.


Colin McCahon, 1919 - 1987 (aged 67), was born in Timaru, New Zealand and died in Auckland, New Zealand. He was on the top tier of New Zealand artists, especially as a landscape artist. He also introduced modernism to New Zealand in the early twentieth century.

He also was deeply religious with a body of religious art work. In his later life as an artist he spent most of his time on large paintings with dark backgrounds overlaid with religious texts in white.

After 1940, he traveled around the South Island and did his first paintings from there, particularly the Nelson region. All of the fabulous scenery is on South Island and it is considerably less populated.

It is this work which led him to prominence. He travelled to paint so often to the South Island that finally in 1948 he and his family moved from the North Island to Christchurch on the South Island.

They moved back to Auckland in 1953 where he eventually became Deputy Director of the art museum in Auckland. He also became a lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. Many of New Zealand’s artists go to this school.

In his 60s his lifelong alcoholism worsened his already poor health. He also developed dementia. He died at 67.

“Most of my work has been aimed at relating man to man to this world, to an acceptance of the very beautiful and terrible mysteries that we are part of. I aim at very direct statement and ask for a simple and direct response. Any other way the message gets lost.”

“My painting is almost entirely autobiographical – it tells you where I am at any given point in time, where I am living and the direction I am pointing in. In this present time it is very difficult to paint for other people – to paint beyond your own ends and point directions as painters once did. Once the painter was making signs and symbols for people to live by; now he makes things to hang on walls at exhibitions.”


One cannot get a toe hold of art knowledge here without first getting to know the geography.

New Zealand is two islands.

The north one is more urbane and much more populated plus has the Māori, the indigenous people.

However, the South has all of the scenery albeit that scenery can erupt. There were terrible earthquakes there in 2010 and 2011. There was a lesser one in 2015.

This makes a tough choice for the artists too as they like a more sophisticated population so as to appreciate and tolerate their work. BUT if one paints any outdoor subjects, and most do, they are on the South Island.

There are 3 art museums: in the north, in Auckland & Wellington; in the South, in Christchurch.
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