New Zealand has a short art history that is unique, reflects our history, and has a variety of influences, for example Māori art and western modernism. Present-day publications reflect this and commonly focus on NZ icons or lesser-known artists. This list features books by NZ authors, and publishers.
Louise Henderson: From Life (2019) was published alongside an exhibition of her work that was a joint project between Auckland Art Gallery and Christchurch Art Gallery. It is the first sole biography of Louise Henderson who worked through the 20th century and had a bold and colourful style. This book is beautiful to look at and goes into great detail about her life and career.
Always Song in the Water: An Oceanic Sketch Book (2019) was written by Gregory O’Brien who lives in Wellington. It focuses on New Zealand as well as the Pacific. It is a thought-provoking book with several influences, for example, Janet Frame and Ralph Hotere.
Finding Frances Hodgkins (2019) traces Hodgkins' steps around Europe after she left New Zealand in 1901. It commonly discusses the relationship between place and the modernisms that Hodgkins developed throughout her career. It is not a physically large book and has been described as an easy read, therefore perfect for those on the go.
Gretchen Albrecht: Between Gesture and Geometry (2019), is an excellent biography of Albrecht, a painter, and sculptor who has been working since the 1960s. Written by Dr. Luke Smythe, the book has 240 images which make her stylistic development across her long career easy to see and understand.
Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors, and the Māori World, 1880-1910 (2018), written by Rodger Blackley, who was an internationally renowned art historian who passed away in 2019. It researches and examines the relationship between Pakeha and Maori in the context of colonial art, and the modern-day outcomes of this. It is a well-written book about a complex history.
Colin McCahon: Is This the Promised Land? Vol. 2 1960-1987 (2020) continues after Peter Simpson’s previously published book, Colin McCahon: There is Only One Direction, Vol.1, 1919- 1959 (2019). The two books analyze McCahon’s work as a whole which has not been done for 35 years. It is a great celebration about McCahon, who came to be one of New Zealand’s most well-known and influential artists.
Melvin Day: Artist (2019) is a unique book in the fact that it consists of five essays from authors who personally knew Day. Day, who was a very prominent art-historian and spent a decade as the director of the National Gallery worked alongside Louise Henderson, Ralph Hotere, and John Drawbridge. His work has been increasingly discussed in recent years as his paintings have become more widely known. This book also has a large number of images.
Te Hei Tiki: An Enduring Treasure in a Cultural Continuum (2019), was written by Dougal Austin, a hei tiki expert and currently the Acting Senior Curator Matauranga Māori at Te Papa. It discusses the long history of hei tiki and is the first book to do so for 60 years. It examines the historic and cultural details behind hei tiki and has a large number of photographs also.
Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys (2019), was published alongside a touring exhibition of her work which was organised by Auckland Art Gallery to marks the 150th anniversary of her death. It discusses 100 of Hodgkins' key paintings and drawings. The book and exhibition represent a renewed interest in the study of women artists by art historians. As the second book about Hodgkins on this list, it is clear that Hodgkins' contribution to New Zealand art is being societally praised.
The New Photography: New Zealand’s First-Generation Contemporary Photographers, (2019) discusses a lesser-known aspect of New Zealand’s art history, which is the history of contemporary photography. It has interviews with several photographers, for example, Richard Collins, Len Wesney, and Ans Westra.