How public taste changes: koru-inspired abstract paintings by painter Gordon Walters (1919-1995) found frighteningly modern in the ‘50s and ‘60s are now to be found on the walls of tasteful interiors in glossy Aotearoa magazines - emblems of the height of mainstream fine art taste.
“I believe,” Walters once wrote, “that dynamic relations are most clearly expressed by the rendition of a few simple elements.“
A new, sumptuous Auckland University Press book, Gordon Walters reveals the diversity of the painter’s exploration of form beyond the koru, and the remarkable diversity of influences that were synthesised in his work.
The book, by art historian Francis Pound, tracks an extraordinary visual journey by Walters, during which the artist did not exhibit for 17 years.
He finally revealed his now iconic koru paintings at Auckland’s New Vision gallery in 1966.
Arguably our most respected art scholar, Francis Pound’s last book was 2009’s acclaimed The Invention of New Zealand: Art and National Identity, 1930-1970.
Pound passed away in 2017, leaving this book on Walters unfinished. His wife, the celebrated art dealer Sue Crockford, also passed away in July of this year.
Taking up the job of finishing it has been friend and art history colleague Leonard Bell, who has written often on Walters.
Pound and Bell met as students in the 1960s, encountering Walter's work first then.
The resulting book is a tribute in lively text and impeccable design to two remarkable men.
Leonard Bell joined Mark Amery on RNZ National’s Culture 101.