Object: Pacific frigate bird I
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|Title||Pacific frigate bird I|
Binney, Don (artist), 1968, Auckland
|Medium summary||oil and acrylic on canvas|
|Materials||oil paint, acrylic paint, canvas|
x 1520mm (Width)
Frame: 1870mm (Height) x 1558mm (Width) x 42mm (Width/Depth)
|Credit line||Gift of the Ministry of External Relations and Trade, 1990|
Painted at the height of Don Binney's critical acclaim in the 1960s, Pacific Frigate Bird I represents the artist's interest in the mythological potential of the bird, and flight. The image was created while Binney was travelling by ship to Mexico and Central America, which perhaps explains the absence of landscape. Yet in many ways, Binney's paintings of the late 1960s all strive towards a greater awareness of flight and space, with this painting capturing the freedom of flight most intensely, the landscape reduced to the light and dark blue of sky and sea, marked only by the horizon.
New Zealand identity
Binney's paintings were powerful signs of a local and unique identity, and they were quickly heralded as statements of the strong bond that many Päkehä felt towards New Zealand. The 1960s was a decade when art historians such as Peter Tomory, Hamish Keith, and Gordon Brown were attempting to write histories of art in New Zealand. Binney's clean lines, graphic style, and his interest in birds and nature carefully observedwere a contemporary example of a painterly tradition that stretched back to the watercolours of John Kinder or Alfred Sharpe in the nineteenth century.
Repetition and flight
In 1969, an almost identical image to Pacific Frigate Bird I was released as a screenprint in the Multiples, an initiative by Barry Lett Galleries to make art more affordable. Featuring prints by artists such as Colin McCahon, Milan Mrkusich, and Robert Ellis, Binney's image remains memorable, the graphic reproduction suiting not only the image's simplicity, but also the endless repetition of flight.
Results from DigitalNZ
Searching 27 million digital objects from over 150 content partners across New Zealand
- THE AUSTRIAN FRIGATE NOVARA. (Colonist, 10 July 1860) -
- THE NATURALIST. A Bird Paradise. (Otago Witness, 17 July 1901) -
- SHIPPING STATISTICS. [From the " Pacific News."] (New Zealander, 03 August 1850) -
- EMPIRE BUILDING IN THE PACIFIC. (Otago Daily Times, 22 October 1900) -
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.