Buster Black

Buster Black
Ngāti Maniapoto/Māori
Ngāti Rangi/Māori
Date of birth
Place of birth
Taumarunui/Manawatu-Whanganui (region)/New Zealand
Date of death
Thomas Desmond Pihama, known as Buster Black, was born in Taumarunui. Though the details of his early life are scarce and his surviving body of work small, his mysterious black paintings occupy a significant place in the New Zealand’s art history.

Black entered the art scene in the 1950s, taking art classes at Auckland City Art Gallery and becoming close friends with Colin McCahon. By the 1960s, the two artists were engaged in a creative dialogue, each influencing the direction of the other’s work, and with McCahon especially inspired by Black’s deep feeling for the landscape.

In the late 1980s, Black confirmed that he had destroyed much his work, though Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki still holds two of his paintings.