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SIGNIFICANT WALTERS ACQUISITION - "The sense of freedom and pleasure I felt in painting the picture is still with me."

14 September 2018

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu have joined forces to purchase a significant artwork by New Zealand artist Gordon Walters – entitled Chrysanthemum - that will be jointly owned and displayed by the two Galleries.

The painting was made in 1944 and is considered to be one of the most important early works by the artist as it shows his early steps towards abstraction.

In 1974, when asked to write about his ‘favourite’ work for the publication Islands, Walters described his reasons for keeping Chrysanthemum in his personal collection: 

When I painted Chrysanthemum in late 1945 [sic] I was struggling to develop a more personal direction in my work than the highly finished realism which had occupied me for the previous three years. It made a break with my earlier work as a student, and reached out towards current concerns… The sense of freedom and pleasure I felt in painting the picture is still with me.… I haven’t sold it; I keep it stacked out of sight and, perhaps once or twice a year, take it out and look at it.’

DPAG Director, Cam McCracken, says “We know that this particular painting remained of enduring importance to Gordon Walters, reflecting a breakthrough moment in his journey toward abstraction. The addition of Chrysanthemum brings a landmark painting by Walters into the joint collections of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu securing this important work in the public realm for future generations.”

“Chrysanthemum is an important work of twentieth-century New Zealand art, an essential reference point in the development of abstraction in this part of the world—painted by an artist based in Christchurch for the latter part of his life. We are delighted to acquire this major painting in partnership with our colleagues in Dunedin,” says Christchurch Art Gallery director Blair Jackson.

Chrysanthemum is currently touring New Zealand as part of the Gordon Walters: New Vision exhibition – a partnership project between the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. The exhibition was launched at Dunedin Public Art Gallery on 11 November 2017, is currently on show at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and will open at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū on 23 November 2018 and in late May, 2019 at Te Papa Tongarewa.

 

Image: Gordon Walters
Chrysanthemum 1944
oil on cardboard
Collection Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu
Image courtesy of the Gordon Walters Estate.

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