Author(s): Peter Simpson
100 years after the birth of New Zealands leading artist, Peter Simpson has produced the first major book on McCahon in years.
Description: Colin McCahon (1919-1987) was New Zealand's greatest twentieth-century artist. Through landscapes, biblical paintings and abstraction, the introduction of words and Maori 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. This will be the definitive work on New Zealand's leading artist for many years to come.
Review: `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
Contents: PREFACE INTRODUCTION 1 SOUTHERN BEGINNINGS, 1919-36 2 DUNEDIN, NELSON, WELLINGTON, 1937-46 3 TAHUNANUI, 1946-48 4 CHRISTCHURCH I, 1948-49 5 CHRISTCHURCH II, 1950-53 6 TITIRANGI I, 1953-58 7 TITIRANGI II, 1958-59 CONCLUSION LIST OF ARTWORKS EXHIBITION RECORD, 1940-59 NOTES SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX
Author Biography: 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.
Longisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards - Illustrated Non-Fiction Award 2020