Mythologising McCahon: A Heretical View

  • Leonard Bell


McCahon has frequently been characterised as a prophet, the greatest New Zealand artist, and exceptional, as if his works are somehow outside history and beyond criticism. This mythologisation has largely passed unquestioned in art critical and historical texts over the last sixty years. This essay views McCahon’s work and mythologised persona from a different perspective. It emphasises art-making processes and the business of establishing a public profile that ground his work and person in the material, everyday world, rather than elevating them transcendentally. A different picture of McCahon’s art and the means by which it came to be so idealised and hallowed emerges.


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How to Cite
BELL, Leonard. Mythologising McCahon: A Heretical View. The Journal of New Zealand Studies, [S.l.], n. NS31, dec. 2020. ISSN 2324-3740. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 jan. 2021. doi: