The story of twentieth-century art is dominated by a major shift from representation to abstraction, from Cezanne's paintings of hills and houses to Pollock's pictures of nothing. Yet in New Zealand we know a lot about Rita Angus and Colin McCahon but little about the post-representational art that now dominates the art world. This book is the first account of the work of New Zealand's leading abstract painter, Milan Mrkusich. Trained as an architect and working for the innovative design firm Brenner Associates in the 1940s, Mrkusich quickly established a new mode of painterly abstraction. Drawing on ideas from alchemy, phenomenology, and modernist thinkers, Mrkusich soaked up the work of international artists to establish his own New Zealand modernism. This book traces Mrkusich's work from the early emblem paintings, through the triumphant corner works of the 1960s, and on to the artist's broad recognition from the 1970s. Milan Mrkusich is New Zealand's most powerful modernist. For him, a painting is paint on canvas first and foremost: 'it's not the Kaipara mudflats. It's a painting. It's paint. To me it's just a whole lot of grey paint.' MRKUSICH shows how an artist growing up around the Kaipara mudflats can produce abstract art admired around the world.
Alan Wright is a senior lecturer in the art history department at the University of Auckland. Ed Hanfling also teaches in the art history department and works as a freelance writer, curator and critic. Together they wrote the catalogue Vuletic and his Circle to accompany the exhibition of the same name in 2003 at the Gus Fisher Gallery.
Contents include: Introduction -- Chapter 1: The Early Works 1946-1959 Plates -- Chapter 2: Paintings 1960-1962 Plates -- Chapter Three: The Emblems 1962-1963 Plates -- Chapter Four: The elements 1965-1966 Plates -- Chapter Five: The Diagrams, 1965-1967 Plates -- Chapter Six: The Corner Paintings 1968-1976 Plates -- Chapter Seven: The Chromatic Meta-Greys of 1969 Plates -- Chapter Eight: Painting 1977-1985 Plates Chapter Nine: 1986-1997 Plates -- Chapter Ten: Recent Work 1997-2007 Plates -- Bibliography -- Index.