Colin McCahon is widely recognized as New Zealand’s foremost painter. Over 45 years, his work encompassed many themes, subjects and styles, from landscape to figuration to abstraction and an innovative use of painted text. His adaption of aspects of modernist painting to a specific local situation and his intense engagement with spiritual matters, mark him out as a distinctive figure in twentieth-century art
Colin John McCahon was born in Timaru on 1 August 1919. He showed an early interest in art which was stimulated by the work of his maternal grandfather, photographer and painter William Ferrier, as well as regular visits to exhibitions.
As a teenager McCahon attended Russell Clark’s Saturday art classes, before enrolling at the Dunedin School of Art (1937–39), where Robert N. Field proved an inspirational teacher. He first exhibited his works at the Otago Art Society in 1939.
In 1942, McCahon married fellow artist Anne Hamblett (1915–1993). The couple went on to have four children.