'The sound of painting': Colin McCahon

Butler, Rex and Simmons, Laurence (2010). 'The sound of painting': Colin McCahon. In John Dixon Hunt, David Lomas and Michael Corris (Ed.), Art, word and image: 2,000 years of visual/textual interaction (pp. 329-345) London, U.K.: Reaktion Books.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Butler, Rex
Simmons, Laurence
Title of chapter 'The sound of painting': Colin McCahon
Title of book Art, word and image: 2,000 years of visual/textual interaction
Place of Publication London, U.K.
Publisher Reaktion Books
Publication Year 2010
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
ISBN 9781861895202
1861895208
Editor John Dixon Hunt
David Lomas
Michael Corris
Chapter number 5
Start page 329
End page 345
Total pages 17
Total chapters 7
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
The American art historian Thomas Crow, in his interview with Marja Bloem, curator of the 2002 Colin McCahon show, A Question of Faith, at the Stedlijk Museum, made the following apparently hyperbolic assertion: 'A major contemporary of Rothko, Newman, Pollock, Twombly and Johns—an artist fully at their level of achievement—is in the midst of his first major touring retrospective'. However, in the first words of his article, he had already qualified this by suggesting: 'Globalization, our mantra of the moment, only carries so far where art is concerned'. That is, Crow admits, there is only a remote chance that the readers of Artforum would have heard of McCahon, and it is unlikely the situation is going to change any time soon. For nothing could more destine an artist to obscurity—even one as admittedly great as McCahon—than being born in faraway New Zealand and making his best work there in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. McCahon's work became well known in his home country for its exploration and synthesis of three major themes: the regional New Zealand landscape, the pictorial use of text and the meaning of Christian faith. But even now the art world seems unready to admit him into the wider canon, or the history of twentieth-century art that would make sense of his work has not yet been written. Indeed, one of the challenges faced by contemporary art history and its promise of a new global or world art is whether the kinds of historical revisionism that would make McCahon visible to the rest of the world are even possible. Can an artist simply be inserted into mainstream art history after an absence of some forty years?
Copyright © The Contributors 2010
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Created: Wed, 16 Feb 2011, 16:00:49 EST by Ms Stormy Wehi on behalf of School of Communication and Arts