The Auckland Art Gallery contains the city’s finest collection
of New Zealand art, housed in the beautiful product of a $120 million 2011 revamp.
The 1888 French Château-style galleries have now been stylishly integrated with
a modern glass-and-timber wing which marries the gallery with the adjacent
What’s on display is constantly changing, but on any given day
you might find a wall full of nineteenth-century European vistas and viscounts,
and the odd Picasso or Henry Moore. But you’re really here to see Aotearoa as perceived
by visitors and homegrown artists.
Seek out conflicting visions of Maori settlement: the healthy-looking
and confident Polynesians of Kennett Watkins’ 1912 The Legend of the Voyage to New Zealand contrast starkly with the 1898 The Arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand.
Here Charles Goldie uses Géricault’s Raft
of the Medusa to depict desperate and starving seafarers in their double-hulled
Goldie was also one of the main artists behind often-sombre portraits
of Maori with their traditional moko (tattoos), often just under the lower lip, but occasionally full-face. Twentieth-century
New Zealand artists to look out for include Rita Angus, Toss Woollaston and,
probably the country’s most venerated artists, Colin McCahon and Ralph Hotere.