Colin McCahon

The Fourteen Stations of the Cross

The Fourteen Stations of the Cross by Colin McCahon

Artwork Detail

Colin McCahon painted Fourteen Stations of the Cross, 1966 as a sequence which ideally was to be viewed from left to right. The artist paints the 14 events described in the New Testament, beginning with Christ being condemned and ending with his body being laid in the tomb after his crucifixion. Instead of setting this narrative in Jerusalem, the sequence is sited in New Zealand.

McCahon’s views constantly shift from land as seen from the sea, to hills as seen from a plain. While local landscapes are shown they are not specific to a particular place, but instead represent an imaginary journey. In simplifying New Zealand’s landscape McCahon enhances ambiguity and viewers are left questioning whether these are scenes of arrival or departure. Consequently, what started as a gospel narrative becomes a visual metaphor for journeys taken throughout life, in which one’s experiences link the past with the future. A few years after creating the work McCahon described the paintings’ meanings for him: ‘They are all concerned with man’s fall and his resurrection.’

The Fourteen Stations of the Cross
Colin McCahon
Production date
synthetic polymer paint on 14 sheets of paper on cardboard
750 x 555 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the artist, 1981
Accession no
Other ID
1981/27/1-14/X, cm000123 Catalogue Number
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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