Wednesday 29 August 2012

Series and series-in-series

A few months after their launch, I've continued playing with Digital New Zealand's set functionality.

In particular, I have been mulling over an idea for a project with the McCahon database. Although the McCahon Trust has not yet given permission for the site to be harvested, the collections at Te Papa and Auckland Art Gallery have given me enough to work with as I start thinking through Wystan Curnow's  ideas about McCahon's series and self- and cross-references:
I know of no artist whose works so cross-reference themselves. As if there were no single works, but only sets, series, series within series and, finally, one work, the life work. To this end he dispenses with the frame to open his paintings at the sides to sequence and narrative, deposits motifs whose symbolic resonance transcends their use in anyone painting. ...
... McCahon is a painter with a symbolising mind which is always propositioning the world. His work records this meaning - making process as a flow of hypotheses. As an improviser, he obeys these injunctions: his art must change, it must be direct, it must be sacred - a matter of life and death. 
I've been using DigitalNZ to pull together groups of McCahon's work on different themes, and annotate them with some explanatory info - sometimes for my own reference, sometimes for the chance reader who may happen upon them. It has been interesting using the sets functionality as a kind of research tool - it brings up a lot of edge cases about what would be useful for me here. But for now, here are some of the sets that represent the inklings of this idea:

McCahon's Cubism

A landscape with too few lovers

McCahon and Caselberg



The Gates and the way through

Light and waterfalls

Rocks in the sky

This is the promised land

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