After McCahon at Auckland City Art Gallery: Canonisation and the Market in the 1980s
Can New Zealand postmodernism be described as a post-McCahon condition? Curator Christina Barton’s exhibition after McCahon: some recent configurations in art (1989), at Auckland City Art Gallery, was a critical response to McCahon’s canonisation, registering internal diversity within an institution deeply invested in this status. Strategically invoking McCahon’s name enabled Barton to smuggle a group of younger artists into ACAG’s exhibition programme. The artists in After McCahon explored poststructuralist theory, an expansion of institutional critique, post-punk practices and decolonial politics. These discourses of the 1980s supported the production of works dripping with postmodern irony and acutely conscious of the institutional authority amplifying McCahon’s voice and certifying his blue-chip status.
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