New Zealand


With an urban population of just over one and a half million, and one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, Auckland has a range of galleries and art institutions pitched to different communities. Located downtown next to Albert Park is the city's premier institution, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, a European-style art museum that opened in 1888. It has several leading collections of contemporary and historic works—local, national, and international—and presents The Walters Prize every two years, the country's main contemporary art award.

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Other significant Council-funded institutions like Te Tuhi in Pakuranga, Te Uru in Titirangi, Artspace Aotearoa and Audio Foundation in Karangahape Rd, and Objectspace in Ponsonby focus more specifically on innovative contemporary art, sonic art and experimental music, design and craft. Artspace Aotearoa and Te Tuhi, in particular, have seasoned and perceptive art directors from overseas, Remco de Blaaij (Netherlands) and Gabriela Salgado (Argentina), who clearly maintain their long-distance connections.

Two university galleries of note in the inner city are the newly revamped Gus Fisher (University of Auckland) and ST Paul St (AUT). Both present national and international programmes, but ST Paul St is especially focused on Pasifika and Māori culture and art with a socially and globally transformative agenda.

There are at least two dozen commercial galleries in Auckland, a few in the inner city, and many along the Karangahape Rd 'art mile.' Two Rooms in Putiki St presents an interesting mixture of photography, works on paper, sculpture and painting. Documentary photography and domestic-sized—but innovative—painting are proprietor Jenny Todd's trademarks, her time running a gallery in London perhaps influencing her programme. Her selection of New Zealand (say, Mark Adams, Joyce Campbell, Julia Morison), Australian (John Nixon), British (Sarah Lucas, David Shrigley, Basil Beattie), Dutch (Jan van der Ploeg) and German (Joachim Bandau) artists is a distinctive combination.

Michael Lett and Andrew Thomas's converted bank in East St—with a walk-in safe turned into a basement gallery, wonderfully 'archaeological' mosaic floors, and ornate ceilings—is easily the most intriguing gallery in the city. The Lett Gallery's New Zealand and international art, mostly comprising of installation or performance, is conspicuously 'edgy'. Martin Creed, Simon Denny, Dan Arps, Jim Allen, Kate Newby and Jacqueline Fraser are good examples.

As an architectural contrast, Starkwhite on Karangahape Rd presents art in a converted strip club that has a spectacular staircase connecting an elegant large downstairs space to an array of smaller galleries upstairs. Directors John McCormack and Dominic Feuch's line up of mainly Australian and New Zealand artists include contemporary conceptualists The Estate of L. Budd and Billy Apple, photographers Fiona Pardington and Gavin Hipkins, video and performance artists Grant Stevens and Alicia Frankovich, and historic figures Gordon Walters and Len Lye, among others.

With such a diverse and complex art community overall, Auckland's art experience opportunities are abundant for those with the necessary enthusiasm and energy.

Current Exhibitions In Auckland

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Contemporary art exhibition, Matt Arbuckle, Reading Hands at Two Rooms, Auckland
22 May–18 July 2020 Matt Arbuckle Reading Hands Two RoomsAuckland
Contemporary art exhibition, John Nixon, Small Black + White at Two Rooms, Auckland
22 May–18 July 2020 John Nixon Small Black + White Two RoomsAuckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Julian Dashper, 1984–1987 at Michael Lett, Auckland
16 July–15 August 2020 Julian Dashper 1984–1987 Michael LettAuckland

Ocula Member Galleries In Auckland

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Michael Lett contemporary art gallery in Auckland, New Zealand Michael Lett Auckland
Starkwhite contemporary art gallery in Auckland, New Zealand Starkwhite Auckland
Two Rooms contemporary art gallery in Auckland, New Zealand Two Rooms Auckland

Contemporary Institutions In Auckland

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Auckland In Ocula Magazine

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Nominees Announced for New Zealand’s Walters Prize Ocula News Nominees Announced for New Zealand’s Walters Prize Auckland, 9 April 2020

The works include a 14m-tall rope weaving, remixed footage from WWII, and video of newspapers being bleached.

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Tautai Opening a ‘Dream’ for Pacific Art Community Ocula News Tautai Opening a ‘Dream’ for Pacific Art Community Auckland, 23 March 2020

The new art space on Auckland's Karangahape Road is the culmination of a decades-long effort to support artists of Pacific heritage.

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Colin McCahon: A Way Through Ocula Insight
In collaboration with Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Wellington
Colin McCahon: A Way Through By Christina Barton, Sophie Thorn and Nina Dyer, Wellington

Colin McCahon's Gate III (1970) has graced the walls of Victoria University of Wellington since 1972. Thousands of students and staff have walked past it over these years, and many remember their first encounter with the towering words 'I AM' that dominate its composition. Gate III was commissioned for the exhibition Ten Big Paintings at...

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Auckland Art Fair 2019: Conversations Extended Ocula Report Auckland Art Fair 2019: Conversations Extended By Sherry Paik, Auckland

The weather was clement for the annual Auckland Art Fair (2–5 May 2019), which was again at The Cloud on Queens Wharf. This year's edition was a get-together of 41 galleries, mostly from around Auckland and across New Zealand, with 5 spaces hailing from Sydney and the rest from Cook Islands (Bergman Gallery), Hobart (Michael Bugelli Gallery)...

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Recent Events In Auckland

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