Ross Ritchie

The 90th garden

The 90th garden by Ross Ritchie

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This is regarded as one of the most inventive New Zealand paintings from the 1960s, combining references to art history, imagery from the popular media and, within its assured handling and draughtsmanship, shifts in style. It is also an interesting reflection on art-making in the Antipodes, far from the source of European traditions, with the inclusion of subtle Polynesian motifs in its collage elements. These not only disrupt the painted surface but also serve to situate the painting in the Pacific. Ritchie has used Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's The salon in the Rue des Moulins (a depiction of the opulent reception room of a maison close or high-class brothel in Montmartre), as his compositional starting point. In Lautrec's painting the madam sits surrounded by her girls on luxuriously-wide divans. Here we still sense the divan on which the foreground figure is seated as well as the original's ornate mouldings which now frame a landscape. This is viewed as if looking out of a verandahed colonial villa. The artist has not only reduced the number of figures but has also replaced one of them with a male. Among Ritchie's files of newspaper clippings to be used as potential references was this image of Dag Hammarskjøld, Secretary General of the United Nations, who looks out with a rather sardonic expression, adding to the ambiguity of the work. (from The Guide, 2001)

Title
The 90th garden
Artist/creator
Production date
1965
Medium
oil and collage on board
Dimensions
1206 x 1029 mm
Inscription
Ritchie '65 (l.r.)
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1965
Accession no
1965/5
Other ID
65/87 Old Accession Number
Copyright
Copying restrictions apply
Department
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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