Te Papa buys two paintings at auction from the BNZ art collection


Te Papa acquired two paintings at auction from one of the country’s most important private art collections.

The paintings purchased by Te Papa are:

  • Glenda to Tahakopaby Robin White, oil on canvas, 1978, purchase price $406,000.
  • Design, by A. Lois White, watercolor on cardboard, c. 1944, purchase price $221,000.

Te Papa Tumu Whakarae | Managing Director Courtney Johnston said Te Papa would always encourage corporate and private collectors to consider donating artwork to public collections if they are scattering a collection.

“We encourage any collector to think about the legacy they are creating when they return works to the hands of the public, where they can be held in trust for future generations,” Ms Johnston said.

“There is a limit to what public institutions in New Zealand can afford to buy, and as the market becomes more expensive the public will depend more on the generosity and vision of collectors who choose to do so. gift of works.”

Ms Johnston said Te Papa was delighted to have obtained the two works purchased for the national collection.

“It is exciting for Te Papa to acquire two paintings of such stunning quality, by two important and beloved New Zealand painters,” said Ms Johnston.

“The response to a major Robin White retrospective currently at Te Papa shows just how popular his work is with New Zealanders, and Glenda to Tahakopa is one of his most iconic paintings.

“The Lois White watercolor is a lush, sensual work that evokes lesbian desire and love at a time when these stories were often hidden away,” says Ms Johnston.

“The acquisition of these two paintings, by women and representing women, is part of our strategy to increase the presence of women in the national art collection.

Te Papa’s artistic director, Charlotte Davy, said the museum had taken a close look at the works in the BNZ collection.

“While there are several works that deserve a place in Te Papa’s collection, we have to stay within our budget and have decided to focus on these two paintings,” Ms Davy said.

“These are works of fantastic quality, in very good condition, and each holds an important place in the history of art in Aotearoa,” says Ms Davy.

Te Papa has an annual acquisition budget of $3 million. This includes collecting in all disciplines, from buying art and history at auction, to funding field trips to collect flora and fauna, or traveling to the Pacific to work with communities and collect objects of contemporary culture.

Glenda to Tahakopa
by Robin White

Glenda to Tahakopa is one of Dame Robin White’s most iconic paintings. Dressed in brilliant red, Glenda stands in the center of the painting, her arms crossed, her eyes fixed in the middle. Behind her is the corrugated iron cladding of Tahakopa Station in South Otago. The work is great, and there is quiet companionship in the painting. As viewers, we have a strong sense of the close relationships between artist, subject and place.

The painting is a wonderful example of White’s painting practice. White is technically extremely skilled and her perfectionism as a painter is on full display in this crisp, eye-catching canvas. The subject is Robin White’s friend, Glenda, an elementary school teacher and member of the Otago Baha’i community.

Design by A. Lois White

Design is an exceptionally fine example of Lois White’s watercolour. In the 1940s and 1950s White produced a number of such varnished watercolors, in which swirling compositions are combined with washes of translucent color. This particular work is unusual for the complexity and density of its composition – although it is described as a drawing, there are no repeating patterns here. The painting is full of pattern, detail and delight: a scene of lush splendour.

Design joyfully proclaims the beauty and sexuality of women – in a way unlike any other work from this period in Te Papa’s collections. It represents women’s sexual desire, as well as lesbian desire and love, at a time when these stories have often been hidden or forgotten.

A. Lois White was born in Auckland in 1903 and grew up in a devout Methodist family. She was educated at the Elam School of Art in Auckland from 1923 to 1927 and spent most of her life both practicing painting and teaching at Elam. Te Papa contains 14 other works by A. Lois White.

About the BNZ Art Collection

The BNZ holds one of New Zealand’s most important private art collections. The collection was founded in 1982, when the bank commissioned Peter McLeavey – at the time the country’s leading art dealer – to purchase works of art on their behalf. McLeavey built up the BNZ Collection between 1982 and 1988. He acquired paintings, prints, sculptures, textiles, ceramics and photography by New Zealand’s most important contemporary and 20th century artists. McLeavey’s in-depth knowledge of the New Zealand art world, as well as his privileged relationship with artists, has enabled him to acquire works of the highest quality. The collection has been considered, since the 1980s, to be one of the best representations of 20th century New Zealand art.

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