The second of an extraordinary two-volume work chronicling forty-five years of painting by our most important artist, Colin McCahon.
Colin McCahon (1919–1987) was New Zealand’s greatest twentieth-century artist. Through landscapes, biblical paintings and abstraction, the introduction of words and Māori motifs, McCahon’s work came to define a distinctly New Zealand modernist idiom. Collected and exhibited extensively in Australasia and Europe, McCahon’s work has not been assessed as a whole for thirty-five years.
In this richly illustrated two-volume work, written in an accessible style and published to coincide with the centenary of Colin McCahon’s birth, leading McCahon scholar, writer and curator Peter Simpson chronicles the evolution of McCahon’s work over the artist’s entire forty-five-year career.
Simpson has enjoyed unprecedented access to McCahon’s extensive correspondence with friends, family, dealers, patrons and others. This material enables us to begin to understand McCahon’s work as the artist himself conceived it. Each volume includes over three hundred illustrations in colour, with a generous selection of reproductions of McCahon’s work (many never previously published), plus photographs, catalogue covers, facsimiles and other illustrative material.
Along with Colin McCahon: There is Only One Direction. Vol 1. 1919–1959, this book will be the definitive work on New Zealand’s leading artist for many years to come.
Dr. Peter Simpson is a former associate professor of English at the University of Auckland. He is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books including Colin McCahon: The Titirangi Years, 1953–1959 (AUP, 2007) and Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933–1953 (AUP, 2016). He has also curated three significant exhibitions of McCahon’s work. He received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (non-fiction) in 2017.
‘Colin McCahon: There is Only One Direction. Vol 1. 1919–1959 belongs in every New Zealand home. With more than 300 illustrations, it is an alluring and profound coffee-table book. But for its real readers, it will be a wonderfully responsive and permanent triumph.’ – David Herkt, Weekend Herald
‘With a generous regard towards his subject, a magisterial command of the material, and scrupulous attention to detail, Peter Simpson has crafted an indispensable work of art-historical scholarship. Colin McCahon: There is Only One Direction draws upon diaries, letters and other contemporary sources to document the artist’s life from 1919 until 1959, alongside a magnificent selection of his works, many of which have not been reproduced before. It is a remarkable achievement.’ – Martin Edmond
‘New Zealand’s foremost artist Colin McCahon is many things to many people: modernist, visionary, environmentalist, shaman, preacher, rustic provincialist, bicultural trailblazer, painter-poet, graffiti artist, teacher, maverick... Peter Simpson’s account interrogates as well as accommodates all of these possibilities. Guiding us year by year through the artist’s career, he offers a ground-breaking overview of the life’s work of a tenacious, brilliant and endlessly fascinating figure.’ – Gregory O’Brien
Hardcover, 400 pages
Dimensions: 290 x 240mm
Publication date: 11 June 2020
Publisher: Auckland University Press
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