06 Oct 2016
Years in the making, NOW SHOWING: A History of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is a fitting testament to this country’s most loved and most talked about art museum.
NOW SHOWING documents the inspiring story of New Zealand’s contemporary art museum, founded through the visionary patronage of Monica Brewster. Released 46 years on from the opening of the Govett-Brewster, NOW SHOWING celebrates the artists, exhibitions and visionary programming that have made the Gallery New Zealand’s leading voice in the international world of contemporary art.
Edited by Christina Barton, Jonathan Bywater and Wystan Curnow (who are also contributing essayists), NOW SHOWING includes additional texts by Jim Barr and Mary Barr, Rhana Devenport, and a director’s foreword by Simon Rees.
NOW SHOWING records the Govett-Brewster’s decades at the vanguard of contemporary art, courting controversy and breaking new ground in the spirit Monica intended. It builds a comprehensive history of the museum through the selection of a 45 artwork colour plate section of important works from the Govett-Brewster Collection and the compilation of ‘Forty Five Moments’ – the exhibitions considered crucial to the development of both the museum and contemporary art in New Zealand.
Simon Rees, director, connected with the Govett-Brewster, the people that have worked there and the community that has gathered around it in different ways since the early-1990s, says he’s delighted to have been part of a team of dedicated people responsible for publishing NOW SHOWING.
“In as much as the book is about art, it’s a social history of New Zealand and its culture and the way that it has developed since the 1960s in tension between the centres in Auckland-and-Wellington and the regions, read through the perspective of a single building,” says Rees.
The book was launched at a Friends of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre event in New Plymouth on Friday 9 September, in Auckland on 21 September and Wellington early-November.
300-pages, full colour, $60 RRP (GST incl.)
Available from the Govett-Brewster Shop and online
Image: The new book NOW SHOWING: A History of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
NOTES TO EDITORS
For high-res images, further enquiries and/or a review copy of the book NOW SHOWING: A History of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery contact:
M: +275 839 2660
About Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s contemporary art museum in the coastal city of New Plymouth, Taranaki on the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Since opening in 1970, the Gallery has dedicated itself to innovative programming, focused collection development and audience engagement. It has earned a strong reputation nationally and internationally for its global vision and special commitment to contemporary art of the Pacific Rim. The Govett-Brewster is also home to the collection and archive of the seminal modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye (1901–1980).
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was founded with a gift to the city of New Plymouth, from one of its greatest ‘Friends’ Monica Brewster (née Govett). A globetrotter before the age of air travel, Monica Brewster envisaged an art museum for her hometown that would be an international beacon for the art and ideas of the current day – the sort she had become familiar with on her global travels.
The Govett-Brewster continues in the legacy of Monica Brewster by taking on and presenting the most provocative, audacious and confident works of art in the global arts landscape.
The greatly expanded museum re-launched on 25 July 2015 with the addition of the Len Lye Centre. With its curved exterior walls of mirror-like stainless steel, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is the country’s first example of destination architecture linked to contemporary art.
This latest addition to the Govett-Brewster – the Len Lye Centre – is New Zealand’s first institution dedicated to a single artist, the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye.
In 1964 Len Lye said “Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art”.
The Len Lye Centre building, adjoining the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, is an example of innovative thinking in both engineering and architecture. The architects are Patterson Associates, one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architectural firms.
The new Len Lye Centre features Lye’s work in kinetic sculpture, film, painting, drawing, photography, batik and writing, as well as related work by contemporary and historical artists.
It also houses a state-of-the-art 62-seat cinema – a welcoming environment for audiences to experience Len Lye’s films, local and international cinema, arthouse and experimental films, and regular film festival programming.
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery building in New Plymouth closed in April 2013 for earthquake strengthening, compliance, upgrades and construction of the Len Lye Centre.
About Len Lye
A visionary New Zealander, an inspirational artist, a pioneer of film; Len Lye is one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from New Zealand.
Len Lye was an experimental filmmaker, poet, painter, kinetic sculptor and creative visionary ahead of his time. Most of his works were so revolutionary that technology literally had to catch up to him – meaning much of Lye’s work was not realised in his own lifetime.
Lye’s iconic 45-metre kinetic sculpture Wind Wand sways gently on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway. The Wind Wand that glows red at night, is the first large outdoor sculpture to be built posthumously from his plans and drawings.
In 1977 Lye returned to his homeland to oversee the first New Zealand exhibition of his work at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. He called it the “swingiest art gallery of the antipodes”.
Shortly before his death in 1980, Lye and his supporters established the Len Lye Foundation, to which he gifted his entire collection. His collection was gifted on the condition that a suitable and permanent home be created in which his works could be fully realised.
“In as much as the book is about art, it’s a social history of New Zealand and its culture and the way that it has developed since the 1960s in tension between the centres in Auckland-and-Wellington and the regions, read through the perspective of a single building” - Simon Rees.