Rita Angus SymposiumRita Angus: Life & Vision Symposium

Professor Wystan Curnow

Angus and modernism


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Related artworks and artists

Portrait of Betty Curnow 1942, Rita Angus
Artworks by Grant Wood
Self-portrait 1936-37, Rita Angus
Cleopatra 1938, Rita Angus
Artworks by Tamara de Lempicka
Portrait of Allen Curnow (not available online)
Fay and Jane Birkinshaw 1938, Rita Angus
1936, Rita Angus

Central Otago 1940, Rita Angus
Landscape with Arum Lily 1953, Rita Angus
Central Otago 1953-56/1969, Rita Angus
Self-portrait with fruit 1960-61, Rita Angus

Related link

Tony green's blog


Angus and modernism. 
In the 1960s, the destiny of modern art in New Zealand art appeared to rest with McCahon, Woollaston and Angus. This paper re-examines that view from the perspective of the present. Today Angus is valued for the content of her work and her dedication to her vocation as a (New Zealand artist), while the formal qualities of her work have been steadfastly ignored as the source of meaning in her work. It seems timely (given the occasion of the Te Papa exhibition) to return to the question of her modernism, and her contribution to New Zealand art history. Must it be linked to those of McCahon and Woollaston?  Do we have a different view of modernism now and hence a different sense of Angus’ place in New Zealand art?


Professor Wystan Curnow

Professor Wystan Curnow has forged a distinguished career as a teacher and scholar in the Department of English, University of Auckland, where he specialises in American poetry and poetics; modern and postmodern art; New Zealand literature and art; image-text relations; popular culture; and literary theory. He has curated numerous art exhibitions, has published widely on New Zealand art, and is a particular champion of McCahon and expatriates Len Lye, Max Gimblett and Billy Apple.


This presentation was recorded on 13 September 2008, during the Rita Angus: Life & Vision Symposium.


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All artworks are reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus.