Artist Profile

Colin McCahon Investment Artist

Born 1919, Died 1987

Born in 1919 Colin McCahon is now regarded as one of New Zealand's greatest painters. Born in Timaru, McCahon was largely self taught, although he studied with Russell Clark in Christchurch from 1933 - 35 and at the Dunedin Technical College from 1937 - 39. In 1939 he moved to Mapua, Nelson, and whilst there was introduced to the work of Toss Woollaston. He lived in various towns in the Nelson region including Pangatotara, Riwaka and Tahunanui until his departure for Christchurch in 1948. In these years he had extended visits to Dunedin and Wellington. In 1953 he moved to Auckland with his family and joined the staff at the Auckland City Art Gallery, later becoming painting tutor at Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland.

In the 1950s and 1960s he painted landscapes based on journeys he had taken through regions of New Zealand, in particular the regions of Otago, Canterbury, Nelson and Northland. In the 1960s McCahon moved to the West Auckland suburb of Titirangi and by the end of that decade he had established a studio at nearby Muriwai Beach. McCahon did several major series based in and around this part of Auckland including the cubist-inspired Kauri series completed while he was living in Titirangi. In the first years of the following decade he undertook works that had Muriwai as their central theme. These included the Days and Nights and View From the Top of the Cliff series. After a period of focus on the Muriwai area he looked to the nearby Kaipara Harbour for inspiration and it was the subject of his 1972 Kaipara Flat series. His Necessary Protection series, also dating from this period and based on views off Muruwai's coast, commented on the artist's environmental concerns and the effect increased visitors and a nearby quarry were having on the local environment.

It was not until 1970 that McCahon began painting full time. His interest in poetry and biblical literature, and the incorporation of words in his paintings, was visible in his art from the 1950s and culminated in his word paintings of the 1980s such as 'A Painting For Uncle Frank' which is now held in the collection of Museum of New Zealand: Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington. These paintings quote passages from various biblical texts were predominantly painted in black and white.

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