Rita Angus comes to life at Te Papa
One of New Zealand’s most important and best-known artists, Rita Angus was brought to the walls of Te Papa through the hard work of Te Papa’s art curatorial team and in partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
During her life Rita Angus produced a remarkable body of drawings, watercolours, and paintings. A committed feminist, and a pacifist, Angus’ work was deeply entwined with her view of the world, and was fundamental to the establishment of a distinctive, modern school of art in New Zealand. In her portraits and landscape paintings, with their distinctive clear colours and flat, graphic style, she created a unique image of 20th-century Aotearoa.
Over the course of 2020 and 2021 the Te Papa Foundation actively fundraised to support Te Papa’s efforts to bring the works of Rita Angus to the walls of Toi Art, with the Rita Angus New Zealand Modernist exhibition. The Foundation are proud to acknowledge that through the Foundation’s generous and thoughtful donors, across both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the Foundation were able to financially support the acquisition of two Rita Angus watercolours and the production of the Rita Angus New Zealand Modernist exhibition (held in Te Papa’s Toi Art from 18 December 2021 – 25 April 2022).
Four works were proposed for acquisition, as important examples of Angus’s portraiture. With the profound generosity of the Angus Family, an agreement was made whereby two works were gifted to Te Papa in exchange for the acquisition of two works. The acquisition of two of the works on paper – watercolours’ Self-portrait (1947) (pictured with Charlotte), and Douglas Lilburn (1941) (pictured), were successfully purchased with the support of the Te Papa Foundation.
These works, together with the two gifted works – Self-portrait (with moth and caterpillar) and Self-portrait (nude, seated) (1942) (pictured) – were produced over a five year period, and represent a particularly significant and productive moment in Rita Angus’ artistic life.
With wide thanks to our donors, Te Papa Foundation are proud to have had a part to play in sharing Rita Angus’ importance in New Zealand’s art history, proving just how vital it is that Te Papa has a strong, representative group of her works in its permanent collection, and to have the ability to share these works with New Zealand.
Charlotte Davy, Te Papa's Head of Art, at the Rita Angus Exhibition opening dinner, December 2021.
Image credits from Dayle's Welcome video (April Newsletter):
Rita Angus, Self-portrait (with moth and caterpillar), 1943, pencil and watercolour. © Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus. Gift of the Rita Angus Estate, 2022. Te Papa (2022-0001-2).
Rita Angus, Self-portrait (nude, seated), about 1942, pencil and wash. © Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus. Gift of the Rita Angus Estate, 2022. Te Papa (2022-0001-1).
Rita Angus, Douglas Lilburn, 1945, watercolour. © Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus. Purchased 2022 with assistance from the Te Papa Foundation. Te Papa (2022-0002-2).
Rita Angus, Self-portrait, 1947, watercolour. © Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus. Purchased 2022 with assistance from the Te Papa Foundation. Te Papa (2022-0002-1).Back to News