$1 million McCahon painting gifted to Te Papa

04:00, Aug 29 2012
Colin McCahon
COLIN MCCAHON: Landscape theme and variations: series B (1963)

An eight-piece painting by Colin McCahon has been gifted to Te Papa by the Arts Council of New Zealand.

It was McCahon's wish that Landscape theme and variations: series B (1963), which is valued at almost $1m, become part of the national museum's art collection.

Creative New Zealand chief executive Stephen Wainwright said when the National Art Gallery was offered the work in the early 1960s, they told McCahon they wanted to buy just two of the panels.

The Arts Advisory Council - Creative New Zealand's predecessor - disagreed and purchased the entire work for £450, he said.

''It seems incredible now. Over time the work's become more and more valuable.

''With the benefit of hindsight, we have to thank them for doing what in the public domain may have been unpopular, but was undoubtedly a clever thing to do.''

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Since then the painting has been included in contemporary New Zealand art exhibitions nationally and internationally.

The work has been on long-term loan to Te Papa since 1983 and formally entered the national art collection in late 2011.

Te Papa chief executive Michael Houlihan said the acquisition was an important and generous one.

"Colin McCahon is widely recognised as one of New Zealand's most remarkable artists of the Twentieth Century.

''The addition of this painting strengthens Te Papa's collection and ensures that the work is able to be shared with New Zealanders and international visitors alike.''

The painting will be on public display on Level 5 after an unveiling ceremony this afternoon.

Te Papa holds 71 works by McCahon in its collection.

Contact Sophie Speer
Culture and Capital Day reporter
Email: sophie.speer@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @sophie_speer

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