This month's record-breaking sale of the Colin McCahon painting The Canoe Tainui for $1.35 million is a reminder of what an important artist McCahon is.
Thomas Crow from New York's Institute of Fine Arts has long rated McCahon, saying in a 2005 essay in ArtForum that his work stands among those of other post-war modernists like Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman.
Professor Crow is in Wellington as the guest of City Gallery which has supporting works by McCahon in an exhibition of art by an unsung figure of the Pop Art movement, the American nun Sister Corita Kent who - like McCahon- used text and graphics in her art.
Prof Crow says he first discovered the work of Colin McCahon in the late 1990s on a visit to New Zealand for an art history lecture.
“When I saw McCahon’s work for the first time it was just unmistakably great, it’s so important to see the work in person to understand how great it is as art. At that point I was completely hooked.”
He says McCahon’s paintings: “possess an immediate power that nothing prepares you for until you see them in person.”
Sister Corita Kent was born about the same time as McCahon. She was an American Catholic nun, artist and educator who lived and worked in Los Angeles and Boston.
She worked almost exclusively with silkscreen, or serigraphy, helping to establish it as a fine art medium.
Her artwork, with its messages of love and peace, was particularly popular during the social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s.
In recent years Kent has gained increased recognition for her role in the Pop Art movement.
Professor Thomas Crow He will talking about the work of Sister Corita Kent and Colin McCahon at City Gallery’s Sister Corita's Summer of Love exhibition.