art history


History of New Zealand painting

  • History of New Zealand painting

    Early European painting in New Zealand was dominated by landscapes and images of exotic Māori. From the 1890s the local art scene was boosted by the arrival of professional painters from Europe. But it wasn't until the 1930s and 40s that a distinct style of painting began to emerge here.

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  • Page 2 – Beginnings

    While the first New Zealand artists often had scenic interests, they were also influenced by art historical practices and beliefs.

  • Page 3 – Influence of European modernism

    1890–1900 Wellington Harbour, James Nairn

  • Page 4 – A new New Zealand art

    In the 1930s and 1940s a distinctly New Zealand style of painting began to emerge - regionalism that is characterised by a preoccupation with place and local identity.

  • Page 5 – Expressionism and abstraction

    The revolutions in early 20th century European art took a long time to influence New Zealand painting. Cubism, for example, took four decades to be accepted here.

  • Page 6 – Contemporary Māori art

    Between 1960 and 1980 a strong resurgence of Maori nationalism and culture developed alongside a growing political voice and demand for the honouring of the Treaty of Waitangi

  • Page 7 – Further information

    Links and books relating to New Zealand art history

First World War art

  • First World War art

    During the First World War official and unofficial New Zealand war artists produced a wide range of works depicting this country's war effort. These works later became part of New Zealand's National Collection of War Art.

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  • Page 2 – Unofficial war art

    New Zealand soldiers used art to interpret the experience of the war for an audience of noncombatant civilians. Civilian artists in turn produced works that responded to and

  • Page 3 – Official war art

    The NZEF employed its first official war artist, Lance Corporal Nugent Welch, in April 1918. Welch documented the activities of the New Zealand Division in France and Belgium,

  • Page 4 – Establishing a collection

    Following the end of the war, attention turned to where New Zealand's official First World War art collection would be stored. Plans for a National War Memorial Museum in

  • Page 5 – National Collection of War Art

    There are around 1500 paintings, drawings, sketches, cartoons and prints in New Zealand’s National Collection of War Art. This collection has its origins in the final year of