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Kyla Mackenzie

(b Nelson, 1949).

New Zealand photographer. Aberhart became a leading photographer in New Zealand from the 1970s with his distinctive 8×10 inch black-and-white photographs, taken with a 19th-century large format Field Camera. He is particularly well known for his images of disappearing cultural history, often melancholic in tone, in New Zealand.

Aberhart’s use of an ‘outmoded’ process for picturing subjects in apparent decay or decline paradoxically re-invigorated them. He was inspired by the documenting traditions of New Zealand’s itinerant 19th-century photographers. His generally provincial subjects included vacant architectural interiors and exteriors, such as domestic houses, Masonic lodges, churches, Maori meeting-houses, and cemeteries, war memorials, museum exhibits, landscapes, and horizons (see A Distant View of Taranaki, 14 February 2009, Auckland, A.G.). Aberhart also produced several compelling portraits, especially those from the late 1970s and early 1980s of his daughters (e.g. Kamala and Charlotte in the Grounds of the Lodge, Tawera, Oxford, 1981; Christchurch, NZ, A.G.)....

Article

John B. Turner

The pattern of development in photography in New Zealand was similar to other colonies in the Victorian era. Progress was slow because of the country’s geographical remoteness and small population. Difficulties of overseas supply and local demand—the very traffic of equipment, materials, ideas, and pictures—have shaped all levels of achievement. Pioneer photographers were participant-observers in the process of nation building who could not but see the world according to the values of their upbringing. For instance, after the wars over land ceased in the 1880s, defeated Maori were imagined as a dying race and their culture was studied with fresh urgency. Maori subjects were common among photographers; the treatments ranging from nostalgic romanticism to abject realism.

Pictorial photography, photography’s first international art movement, dominated the camera club movement throughout the first half of the 20th century, and effectively muted the radical social precepts of modernism to the point of portraying it as an essentially anti-Pictorialist movement. In a society where art practice tends more towards the experiential than cerebral, the influence of Post-modernism, generally perceived as an anti-modernist movement, in its turn seems largely academic....