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About now: 1980–2000

Note: The work in this section of Toi Te Papa has been removed to make way for the exhibition New Zealand at the Venice Biennale 2009.
More information about the Venice Biennale exhibition

By 1980 the certainties of modernism, with its belief that art could operate in a self-contained world, were unravelling across the globe. Artists became aware of art’s role in the politics of society and culture. They also saw that the claim of art as an exclusively Western preserve was unconvincing in post-colonial societies.

As hierarchies of value have crumbled, diversity has flourished. Undeterred by traditional categories of media, artists now use those that best serve their purposes. The distinction between decorative and fine arts has increasingly blurred. New media like photography and video are shown and collected by art galleries.

Cultural difference is now valued. New Zealand artists look to cultural heritage more than landscape for expressions of identity. Both Pacific and Māori artists have attained a new prominence in the contemporary scene. Some Māori artists are art school trained and work in art world contexts, others learn and practice within customary frameworks.

Traditional centres for art have lost their sway as internationalism prevails. New Zealand art, in all its diversity, is in touch with art practice overseas as never before, operating both locally and globally.

Click on the images below to find out more

Purple rain at glorit

Julian Dashper
Purple rain at Glorit


Len Castle
Large folded rim bowl

Large star

Hei Tiki

Rangi Kipa
Hei tiki


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