For the very first time, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki plans to tour 48 Māori portraits by late 19th-century painter Gottfried Lindauer to exhibitions in Berlin, Germany and Pilsen, Czech Republic from November this year. The exhibitions will mark the first departure of these works from New Zealand’s shores since they were painted over 100 years ago.
Gottfried Lindauer, Anehana 1897, oil on canvas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of H E Partridge, 1915.
The Nationalgalerie (National Gallery), part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), will present an exhibition focused on Lindauer’s portraits at the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) from 22 November 2014 to 12 April 2015. The Alte Nationalgalerie is the founding institution of the Nationalgalerie and is located on Berlin’s Museumsinsel (Museum Island Berlin).
From May until July 2015, the Západočeská galerie v Plzni (Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen), plans to present the portraits alongside his paintings showing scenes of everyday life from Auckland Art Gallery’s collection. Pilsen is Lindauer’s birthplace and European Capital of Culture 2015.
Lindauer is renowned for his life-like portraits of Māori and depictions of typical Māori scenes, many of which were commissioned by Auckland businessman Henry Partridge (1848-1931). In total, 44 portraits from Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s Partridge Collection will be presented in both Berlin and Pilsen, along with four portraits from Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s collection.
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Director, Rhana Devenport says the Lindauer paintings are among the most loved and admired works in the Gallery’s collection with local and international visitors gravitating to the space permanently dedicated to showing Māori portraits.
‘As New Zealand’s leading visual art institution it’s our role to showcase New Zealand’s art and culture. These precious taonga give insight to our indigenous history, and by sharing these works we hope to expand understanding and knowledge of New Zealand’s unique culture worldwide. These extraordinary paintings also highlight the complex and particular cultural exchanges between Europe and Māori taking place in New Zealand a century ago.’
Haerewa (the Gallery’s Māori Advisory Group) Chairperson, Elizabeth Ellis CNZM, says recognition of the Lindauer portraits internationally is testament to the value of preserving and protecting Māori culture.
‘These portraits are not only significant in terms of the artist’s technical skills, but also capture the essence of Māori life from that time, giving us a connection to our ancestors that would otherwise have been lost. They have a particular resonance and significance for the descendants of those painted by Lindauer.’
Nationalgalerie (National Gallery) curators, Udo Kittelmann and Britta Schmitz, say, ‘The Nationalgalerie (National Gallery) has to date envisaged a European history of art in its collections and exhibitions, and has so far excluded the context of a 19th-century world that was already globalised. The Gottfried Lindauer exhibition strives to reset the scales.’
‘Questions about inclusion and exclusion are key to the scrutiny of our own cultural practices. The social context of contemporary art is shaped by these questions, which are equally important for the Gottfried Lindauer exhibition. The portraits bear witness to a genuine and rare bicultural exchange, and are proof of fruitful encounters between widely differing persons, societies and cultures; and therefore place these historic portraits in the present.’
The Director of the Pilsen 2015 project, Jiri Suchanek says Gottfried Lindauer was incredibly talented as a painter, and through his skill and sensitivity to the sitter created paintings of priceless cultural value.
‘It’s fitting that we have one of our city’s most celebrated artist’s works on show in the year that we are named European Capital of Culture.’
This project is undertaken in partnership with Toi Māori Aotearoa – Māori Arts New Zealand.
For more information about Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and its collections, visit www.aucklandartgallery.com
For more information about the exhibition, visit the website of the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie www.freunde-der-nationalgalerie.de, or the website of Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) www.smb.museum/en/home.html
For more information about the Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen, visit www.zpc-galerie.cz
For more information about Pilsen 2015, visit www.plzen2015.cz/en/
Updated on 23rd July 2015