The first major exhibition of Māori portraits in the United States opens tomorrow, Saturday 9 September, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
This exhibition, The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, tours 31 Māori portraits from Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.
The New Zealand Government has supported the delivery of this exhibition of international significance through Manatā Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Cultural Diplomacy International Programme and Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Māori Development.
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Director Rhana Devenport says she is grateful for the support and thrilled at the opportunity to lend these portraits to de Young.
‘Auckland Art Gallery are kaitiaki (custodians) of art from Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond. Thanks to this fantastic partnership we are able to share these taonga (treasures) with people in San Francisco. It extends our mission to share New Zealand’s rich cultural heritage and to stimulate discussion prompted by genuine and meaningful experiences. Through these encounters with art we share our unique cultural identity and gain a deeper understanding of the world.’
Max Hollein, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, is honoured to share the paintings which give an insight to Māori culture.
‘This unique exhibition not only presents the astonishing oeuvre of Lindauer but also addresses the complexities of what a painting is and can be. It is fascinating that a Czech painter, trained in the European style of 19th–century portraiture, became the most celebrated portraitist of Māori in New Zealand. We appreciate that for Māori these paintings are living connections to the past and are conduits for remembering and sharing the remarkable life stories of their ancestors.’
Auckland Art Gallery holds the world’s preeminent collection of Lindauer’s Māori portraits and is touring these artworks to the United States following its own successful exhibition, which closed in February 2017 having been visited by 99,167 people. Previous tours took Lindauer’s Māori portraits to Berlin, Germany, in 2015 and Pilsen, Czech Republic, in 2015–16.
Auckland Art Gallery Curator, Māori Art, Nigel Borell notes ‘Gottfried Lindauer was a pioneering colonial painter of 19th–century New Zealand, and with his portraiture practice, produced an unrivalled number of works capturing both Māori and Pākehā (European) New Zealanders of this time. In so doing, his work identified the fascinating intercultural exchanges that occurred during 1800s and 1900s New Zealand and his painting methods revolutionised painted portraiture.’
A total of 31 portraits will be on view, many for the first time in North America and the exhibition will be supported by public floor talks from several descendants of the Māori portraits in the exhibition.
The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Maggie Barry ONZM says Lindauer’s portraits are an extraordinary form of remembrance and preservation.
‘They are a snapshot in time and have huge significance for our cultural identity and heritage. Just as salient today, these portraits help define the modern society of Aotearoa New Zealand. Knowing that these portraits will again forge cross-cultural interactions is a remarkable accomplishment.’
The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand will be open from 9 September 2017 to 1 April 2018.