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About the book
  • Published: 5 November 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143773931
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $75.00

McCahon Country


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In this landmark new book celebrated writer and curator Justin Paton takes readers on a journey through the landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand as seen by our foremost modern artist.

'My painting tells you where I am at any given time, where I am living and the direction I am pointing in.’
Colin McCahon

McCahon (1919-1987) is widely recognised as an outstanding figure in twentieth century art whose ground-breaking work over four decades changed the way we see this country, while engaging intensely with questions of faith, mortality, belonging and the power of art.

In this landmark new book, published in association with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki on the 100th anniversary of McCahon’s birth, celebrated writer and curator Justin Paton takes readers on a journey through the landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand, as the artist loved and painted it.

From Otago to Canterbury, Takaka to Taranaki, Muriwai to Northland and many more places in between, Paton brings his curator’s eye to a selection of nearly 200 of McCahon’s paintings and drawings, including iconic and beloved works and others never before published, presented in fifteen themed sections offering fresh perspectives on McCahon’s abiding concerns.

In elegant, responsive and deeply compelling prose, the author traces McCahon’s travels through New Zealand, charts his remarkable development as a painter and thinker, explores his deepening engagement with Maori culture and environmental issues, and reveals his vision of the land as a source of light, peace and spiritual sustenance.

A book to introduce new viewers to McCahon’s vision and to enlarge the view for those who know the work well, McCahon Country illuminates the beauty, spiritual urgency and enduring power of McCahon’s artworks.

Above all, it shows the reader how McCahon’s paintings get us looking at the world we live in with new eyes.


'McCahon is not only New Zealand’s most significant or important artist. He is our most soulful artist, our most searching. He asks the most of art and the world it renders. One hundred years since his birth, he still wants to know what we should believe in and where we belong.'
Justin Paton

  • Pub date: 5 November 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143773931
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $75.00

About the Author

Justin Paton

Justin Paton is one of New Zealand’s most respected writers and has been described as ‘a brilliant stylist’ whose ‘mind is a great place to visit’. Well known for his Montana Book Award-winning book How to Look at A Painting (Awa Press, 2005), Justin is the author of many books and essays on artists including, recently, Kushana Bush, Ben Quilty and Adrián Villar Rojas. His column ‘A longer look’ appears regularly in the magazine Art News New Zealand. Currently the Head Curator of International Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Justin has held top curatorial positions at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Christchurch Art Gallery and was the curator of New Zealand's official presentation by Bill Culbert at the 2013 Venice Biennale. He was the editor of New Zealand’s oldest literary journal, Landfall, from 2000 until 2005 and the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow in 2012. Justin lives in Sydney, Australia, but returns to New Zealand frequently.


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