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

Parliament's culture and traditions

  • Parliament's culture and traditions

    Explore Parliament's rich history and its colourful culture and traditions.

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  • Page 3 - Parliament in postcardsPainters and photographers loved to capture the beauty of Parliament's buildings in postcards, and New Zealanders and visitors sent these to friends and family in new Zealand and


  • Butler, George Edmund

    George Edmund Butler became New Zealand’s second official war artist in August 1918 – as it turned out, just three months before the end of the war. There are almost 100 of his works in New Zealand's National Collection of War Art, making him this country's most prolific First World War artist

  • McCahon, Colin John

    Colin McCahon’s works became some of the most recognisable and celebrated paintings ever to be produced in New Zealand.

  • Hodgkins, Frances Mary

    Frances Hodgkins’ 56-year career as an artist earned her a secure place among the English avant-garde of the 1930s and 1940s. She was the first New Zealand-born artist to achieve such stature.

  • Earle, Augustus

    Augustus Earle was the first European artist to establish himself for a time in New Zealand and make a prolonged study of part of the country and a number of its people.

  • Angus, Rita

    From the 1960s Rita Angus was recognised as one of the leading figures in 20th-century New Zealand art.


Related keywords

Images and media for painting