Title / object name
Mondrian’s last chrysanthemum
|Maker ||Role ||Date |
|McCahon, Colin ||artist ||1976 |
acrylic on paperMaterials
acrylic paint, paper, hardboard
|Image ||733 (Height) x 1093 (Width) x mm|
|Frame ||1005 (Height) x 1373 (Width) x 33 (Depth) mm|
Colin McCahon was preoccupied by the threat of nuclear war. Here, he depicts the moment of impact – an explosion turning the sky a fiery red. Below, we see the outcome – darkness and smoky grey rubble. The word ‘ash’ recalls President Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech about the possibility of nuclear war: ‘the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth’.
The painting is named after Piet Mondrian, a pioneering abstract artist who posed a crucial question for Colin McCahon: Where to from abstraction?
McCahon believed that the answer lay not in more refinement but in ‘more involvement in the human situation’. For him, art needed a message. ‘Painting,’ he wrote, ‘can be a potent way of talking.’