Author(s): Francis Pound
Finalist in the General Non-Fiction category. The Invention of New Zealand is an important study of nationalism in twentieth-century New Zealand art. From the 1930s onwards, artists, writers and critics such as Toss Woollaston, Allen Curnow, Colin McCahon, Rita Angus, A R D Fairburn, Doris Lusk and Monte Holcroft deployed art, literature and theory in the construction of a national identity, the search for the essence of New Zealand and the invention of a specifically New Zealand high culture. Francis Pound ponders, decodes, memorialises and celebrates this project from its starting moment when painters and poets became newly self-conscious about New Zealand art. He argues that in the early 1970s the framework was largely dismantled and the discourse abandoned by a new generation of artists and critics, such as Richard Killeen, Ian Scott and Petar Vuletic. Over ten fascinating chapters, Pound covers the Nationalists' major concerns, their problems with antecedents, the formulation of their canon and their various co-option, adoption and rejection of Regionalism, Cubism, Modernism and Primitivism in their quest for invention. The Invention of New Zealand is a well-illustrated and engagingly written narrative by one of our most brilliant and original art historians.
Shortlisted for New Zealand Post Book Awards: General Non-Fiction 2010.
Dr Francis Pound is a senior lecturer in art history at the University of Auckland, with particular expertise in twentieth-century New Zealand art and an interest in how a national identity was constructed in art and literature, the intersections of nationalism with primitivism, and New Zealand readings and misreadings of international modernism. His books include the groundbreaking Frames on the Land: Early Landscape Painting in New Zealand (1983) and The Space Between: Pakeha Use of Maori Motifs in Modernist New Zealand Art (1994). He recently curated, and wrote a book to accompany, the exhibition Walters en Abyme, and is currently completing a book about Gordon Walters.