Story: Painting

Colin McCahon, 'Waterfall' (3rd of 4)

 Colin McCahon, 'Waterfall'

In 1958 Colin McCahon visited the United States and was impressed by the abstract expressionism of contemporary painters. On his return to New Zealand his own painting became more abstract. McCahon still took inspiration from natural features – as in this work from a series of waterfall paintings from 1964 to 1965, which were inspired by the Fairy Falls in the Waitākere Ranges. However, he radically simplified the waterfall into a bold abstract statement. The colours used by McCahon in this painting – ochre, white and black – were always central to his palette, with the black and white becoming ever more prominent.

Using this item

Hocken Library, University of Otago
Reference: Acc#: 73/193
Oil on board by Colin McCahon, 1964

Permission of the Hocken Library Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, must be obtained before any re-use of this image. Further information may be obtained from the Library through its website.

Courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Painting - Nationalism and landscape painting, 1935 to 1965', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 9 August 2022)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014