Continuing the legacy of Colin McCahon at Te Papa

5 December 2011

Te Papa is thrilled to announce its latest acquisition, a major painting by renowned New Zealand artist Colin McCahon.

Painted in 1965, McCahon’s characteristic white-on-black, Koru 1, 2, 3 mixes Christian and Maori symbolism.

The numbers evoke the Christian Trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and reflect McCahon’s intense interest in Catholic symbolism during the late 1960s. The koru-like forms show McCahon’s growing engagement with the Maori world during the period.

This cross-cultural exploration links to works by a number of other New Zealand artists working at the time, including Gordon Walters, Paratene Matchitt, Ralph Hotere and Theo Schoon. It is a painting that will have a significant place in the national art collection.

Colin McCahon is widely regarded as New Zealand's pre-eminent painter of the twentieth century.

“Te Papa has actively collected his work for more than a decade, building on the considerable collection assembled by the former National Art Gallery. Koru 1, 2, 3 gives new depths to our collection and we are looking forward to exhibiting it as soon as possible”, says Te Papa Chief Executive Michael Houlihan.

There are now 70 works by the artist in Te Papa's collection.


Media contact

Filipo Katavake-McGrath, Manager, Communications
(0296) 010 180 or (04) 381 7083

Notes to editors

Te Papa has purchased Koru 1, 2, 3 from a private collector for $1.1 million.