Object: Mondrian’s last chrysanthemum
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|Title||Mondrian’s last chrysanthemum|
McCahon, Colin (artist), 1976, Auckland
|Medium summary||acrylic on paper|
|Materials||acrylic paint, paper, hardboard|
x 1093mm (Width)
Frame: 1005mm (Height) x 1373mm (Width) x 33mm (Depth)
|Credit line||Purchased 2008|
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.’
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