Diaspora-Artists logo

Colin McCahon

Born, 1919 in Timaru, New Zealand. Died, 1987

From the catalogue Commonwealth Artists of Fame 1952 - 1977 (Commonwealth Art Gallery, London, 1 June - 3 July 1977): “Born in Timaru, New Zealand. His maternal grandfather, William Ferrier, was an amateur watercolourist and painting was an acceptable activity in the family who lived in Dunedin. Colin McCahon went to school there and also spent two years at Dunedin School of Art (1937 - 39). He attaches great importance to two early experiences which he describes as revelations: watching a signwriter at work on a local shopwindow and seeing the Otago landscape during a family excursion from Brighton. The Toss Woollaston exhibition of 1936 made a deep impression and later their not always easy friendship developed. An early admiration for Cezanne was replaced by a response to what McMahon described as the ‘art of the churches’ - Giotto and Michaelangelo; he included Gaughin among his exemplars. In 1947 he painted a series of religious subjects but the New Zealand landscape continued to be of great importance. In 1951 he visited Australia and his interest in cubism was revived. In 1958 he won, jointly, the Hays Prize and visited the United States of America on a Carnegie Award. In 1959 he worked on ‘Elias’, a series of more than one hundred and twenty canvases which is considered his most significant work.

Colin McCaghgon os one of New Zealand’s best known if enigmatic painters.”

Related items

click to show details of Commonwealth Artists of Fame 1952 - 1977 - catalogue

»  Commonwealth Artists of Fame 1952 - 1977 - catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1977

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Commonwealth Institute

London, United Kingdom