Monday 15 September 2008

Emerging artists

In the late 1960s Rita Angus became increasingly irritated by repeated requests to reproduce images of her iconic early works Cass (1936) and Portrait of Betty Curnow (1942). Angus was concerned that the focus on these early works drew attention away from her current practice - here was an artist in her late 50s-early 60s, being represented by the work of her late 20s and early 30s.

I find it hard to remember, looking at the work of artists who I know through art history, not through association with my own life and age, that once they were young too. The first two rooms of Te Papa's current Rita Angus retrospective, for example, consist of works the artist produced before she was 30.

The Aviatrix (1933) is a new favourite - Angus was around 25 when she painted it.

Cass (1936) was painted when Angus was about 28 and

the masterly Self portrait (1936-1937) was finished before she turned 30.

Likewise, McCahon had already produced his early religious works by the time he turned 30: in 1947 alone, the year he turned 28, he painted Crucifixion according to St Mark, The Angel of the Annunciation, Entombment: after Titian and Crucifixion with lamp.

But no pressure, young artists! Take comfort from Gordon Walters: born in 1919 (same year as McCahon), he was a comparatively late starter. The Poet (1947) and New Zealand Landscape (1947) are probably his best known early works, and he was still a way away from the korus when he turned 30.

Images, from top, all from Te Papa's Rita Angus exhibition website

Rita Angus, The Aviatrix, 1933. Oil on canvas. Post Family Trust Collection.

Rita Angus, Cass, 1936. Oil on canvas on board. Collection of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1955.

Rita Angus, Self-portrait, 1936-37. Oil on canvas. Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to mention Rosalie Gascoigne!