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b. 1929, New Zealand

Robert Ellis Biography

Robert Ellis graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 1952 and settled in New Zealand in 1957. He subsequently began teaching at the (Elam) School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland.

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Alongside artists such as Don Binney and Pat Hanly, he is recognised as one of New Zealand’s most important exponents of a maturing modern movement in the 1960s. For example in the Motorway Series (1963-1974) he transformed the urban environment of Auckland, its roads and communication networks into abstracted landscapes, aerial maps and biomorphic entities. His work is characterised by a graphic immediacy coupled with painterly depth.

Like Don Binney, Ellis’ work has been linked to the conservation movement, often perceived to be questioning the purpose of the arterial routes that mark and manipulate the environment. His work from the 1980s, alluded to the land and Māori spirituality, using words and symbols and referencing the Ratana faith.

Ellis’ work is held in the collections of the Auckland Art Gallery and Te Papa Tongarewa, The Museum Of New Zealand.  

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