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MRKUSICH: Abstraction in New Zealand
by Alan Wright
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The story of twentieth-century art is dominated by a major shift from representation to abstraction, from Cezanne's paintings of hills and houses to Pollock's pictures of nothing. Yet in New Zealand we know a lot about Rita Angus and Colin McCahon but little about the post-representational art that now dominates the art world. This book is the first account of the work of New Zealand's leading abstract painter, Milan Mrkusich. Trained as an architect and working for the innovative design firm Brenner Associates in the 1940s, Mrkusich quickly established a new mode of painterly abstraction. Drawing on ideas from alchemy, phenomenology, and modernist thinkers, Mrkusich soaked up the work of international artists to establish his own New Zealand modernism. This book traces Mrkusich's work from the early emblem paintings, through the triumphant corner works of the 1960s, and on to the artist's broad recognition from the 1970s. Milan Mrkusich is New Zealand's most powerful modernist. For him, a painting is paint on canvas first and foremost: "it's not the Kaipara mudflats. It's a painting. It's paint. To me it's just a whole lot of grey paint." MRKUSICH shows how an artist growing up around the Kaipara mudflats can produce abstract art admired around the world.
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