The important biography of a significant figure in New Zealand art and culture
Émigré artist Theo Schoon was fascinating, unorthodox, controversial, pioneering and at times reckless. His life intersected with important cultural periods and places, where what it meant to be modern in New Zealand was being debated and articulated in art, literature, music and theatre.
The art he pioneered and promoted – Māori rock drawings, the drawings of a psychiatric patient, Māori moko and kōwhaiwhai, the abstract patterns of geothermal activity in Rotorua – were decisive for many other New Zealand artists, including Gordon Walters. And his example, as an academically trained artist with a good knowledge of modern European art and a commitment to do whatever it took to pursue his artistic projects, was both an inspiring and a cautionary tale.
Schoon’s is a life less well known now than it deserves to be. This superb, highly illustrated biography by one of New Zealand’s best art writers corrects that imbalance and examines Schoon’s claims on the development of art and culture in Aotearoa in the twentieth century.
To read the introduction, click here.
‘The biography draws on a huge resource of written and recorded interviews and archival materials. It is a phenomenal piece of work, gone about not only with zeal and forensic precision, but also with an eye constantly on the bigger picture.’ — Greg O’Brien