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Entries in Religious Art (1)


Colin John McCahon

Colin John McCahon - The Angel of the Annunciation - 1947 - Oil on cardboard - 647 x 521 mm - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington (click photo for larger image)Colin John McCahon (1919–1987) was a prominent New Zealand artist whose work over forty-five years consisted of various styles including: landscape, figuration, abstraction and the overlay of painted text. He is credited as being one of several artists who introduced modernism to New Zealand in the mid twentieth century, and is regarded as New Zealand's most important modern artist, particularly in his landscape work.

McCahon first exhibited his work at the Otago Art Society in 1939. His painting was considered too abstract and was excluded from the society's exhibition, despite a rule entitling each member to submit one work. The society’s conventions of good taste were challenged by McCahon’s modernist style, which reduced the volcanic cones of the Otago Peninsula to a topographic series of bare, almost monochromatic forms. The protests of other young artists, however, who withdrew their works in sympathy with McCahon, forced the society to relent and display is work.

At the beginning of World War II McCahon worked in prescribed industries in support of the war effort. Later he travelled around the South Island getting seasonal work, leaving his family at home. His work from this time reflects the places he went to, particularly the Nelson region.

McCahon’s first mature works, religious paintings and symbolic landscapes, emerged in the years immediately after the war. Although he never belonged to any church, he was definitely interested in exploring issues of Christianity.