Colin McCahon Centenary Symposium

Colin McCahon Centenary Symposium

  • 15 February 2020, 12.30–5.30pm
  • Monash Art Design & Architecture
    Building G, Lecture Theatre G1.04
    900 Dandenong Road
    Caulfield East, VIC 3145

Free, please RSVP
Colin McCahon, The Five Wounds of Christ no. 1, 1977. NGV, Melbourne. Courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust.

Join Monash Art Design and Architecture for a half-day symposium to celebrate the life and legacy of New Zealand's most significant painter.

By the time of his death in 1987, Colin McCahon (1919-1987) was hailed as a leading Antipodean modernist. After failing to find an audience for much of his career, his numerical and text-based compositions, and his heavily abstracted visions of the New Zealand landscape had been acknowledged as potent avatars of Australasian modernism. Transcending their personal origins, they were seen to address shared existential themes of doubt, faith, suffering and redemption.

McCahon’s centenary began late last year and this half-day symposium will celebrate his life and legacy. Timed to coincide with the National Gallery of Victoria exhibition Colin McCahon: Letters and Numbers, its speakers include authors, historians, artists and curators from Australia and New Zealand. They will share new scholarship, opinions and reflections on key aspects of McCahon’s practice, including his sexuality, the posthumous reception of his final canvasses, the role of religion in his practice, and the nature of his individualism.


  • Rex Butler, Professor of Art History & Theory, Monash University, Melbourne
  • Martin Edmond, Sydney-based writer and author of Dark Night: Walking with McCahon (2011)
  • Brent Harris, Melbourne-based artist
  • Jane McCabe, Lecturer in History, Otago University, Dunedin
  • Peter Simpson, former Associate Professor, University of Auckland and author of a new two-volume survey of McCahon's work
  • Laurence Simmons, Professor of Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland
  • Luke Smythe, Lecturer in Art History & Theory, Monash University

Organised by Luke Smythe, Lecturer, Art History & Theory, Monash Art Design and Architecture and supported by Dame Jenny Gibbs.

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