The Spirit of Colin McCahon
By Zoe Alderton
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The Spirit of Colin McCahon provides a vivid historical contextualisation of New Zealand's premier modern artist, clearly explaining his esoteric religious themes and symbols. Via a framework of visual rhetoric, this book explores the social factors that formed McCahon's religious and environmental beliefs, and justifications as to why his audience often missed the intended point of spiritual his discourse – or chose to ignore it. The Spirit of Colin McCahon tracks the intricate process by which the artist's body of work turned from optimism to misery, and explains the many communicative techniques he employed in order to arrest suspicion towards his Christian prophecy.More broadly, The Spirit of Colin McCahon outlines a model of analysis for the intersection of art and religion, and the place of images as rhetorical devices within Antipodean culture. The emerging field of religion and visual culture is important not only to students of New Zealand art history, but also to a growing field of appreciation for the communicative power of images. This book provides a helpful model for examining art and literature as social and religious tools, and advances the importance of visual rhetoric within studies of art and social expression.