Friday 13 April 2012

Thinking about William McAloon's acquisitions

Everyone who worked with William McAloon appreciated his perceptive eye. William was a curator who could recognise quality in a nano-second. We laughed about this together as it sometimes surprised me to learn what he liked. He was as equally eloquent an advocate for Pat Hanly as he was for Jeffrey Harris. Jörg Immendorff’s dark visions delighted him, although the real-life notion of going to a nightclub like those which Immendorff adored was anathema to him. They were too louche.

Bill Sutton’s panoramic Plantation series of the 1980s fascinated William and I remember him saying you could smell their pine trees. Max Gimblett’s shaped panels of the early 1990s intrigued William. He discussed with me the significance of Eastern Buddhist gilded lacquer work in this period of Gimblett’s career. He spoke of Richard McWhannell as being one of New Zealand’s finest portrait painters, and he was spot on there.

I cannot list here every work of art which he brought to the Gallery’s collection, but I have selected some of the artworks that I immediately associate with his insight. You will note that William was wide-ranging in his choices.

A work that William was particularly proud to acquire is the Gordon Walters’ Untitled (Triptych) of 1993. He bought it for the Gallery shortly before the artist’s death in 1995. Walters was thrilled to have such a staunch example of his late painting enter the collection. William gave me a one-to-one outline of the way Untitled operates as a triptych. He spoke superbly when discussing art he was passionate about. It was at these moments when you understood that William really looked at art. He never looked at art’s ‘surface’; he looked subcutaneously. What an eye you had, William!

Michael Stevenson, One Baptism, 1988
oil on panel, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1996

Ellsworth Kelly, Black Diamond, 1997
from the series: Coloured Diamonds
lithograph, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1998

Brice Marden, Cyprian Evocation, 1992
etching and aquatint, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1998

Marie Shannon, Fluff, 1998
hand-coloured, selenium toned gelatin silver print
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1998

L.Budd, the story of, 1991–1998
light fittings, paper, heater, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of the Auckland Art Gallery, 1997

Judy Darragh, Rock and Rose Bed (The Bed You Make Is the Bed You Lie in), 1989–96
plastic and polystyrene, gift of Denis Cohn and Bil Vernon, and the artist, 1996, reconstructed with funds provided by Auckland Art Gallery

Gordon Walters, Untitled (Triptych), 1993
acrylic on canvas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1994

Shane Cotton, Picture Painting, 1994
oil on canvas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1994


Tracy Puklowski said...

Thank you for this post Ron, much appreciated.

Russ said...

These are great. Thank you for helping me appreciate him.