Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Mad connection

Opening tonight at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea is the exhibition The Gallery of Helen Hitchings: from Fretful Sleeper to Art World Giant. Hitchings opened the first dealer gallery in Wellington at 39 Bond Street in 1949 and encouraged Les Paris, among others, to pursue his interest in art. The gallery closed after a couple of years but Hitchings, in a massive effort, took a bunch of paintings to the UK and exhibited them in London’s Irving Galleries in June 1952. The artists included Colin McCahon, Rita Angus, Louise Henderson and Toss Woollaston. Why are we telling you this? Because four months later, in October 1952, Mad Magazine started publishing and while it was to be many years before American culture impacted on New Zealand art, Mad sure helped kick the door open. Looking at the international exhibitions of some of our public art museums, it will probably take even longer to convince the old guard that the England of Henry Moore and Constable is not still home. To show what we’ve been missing, enjoy all the Mad Magazine covers we could find that featured art. And, as you can see, by the 60s, even Mad Magazine had turned its head from Europe to home.