The art of surprise : Philip Trusttum : development and style
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In 1990 Philip Trusttum was described as 'probably the most multi-faceted painter New Zealand has'. To date there exists no thorough survey of his artistic development and style. As a result critics and art historians appear not to be fully aware of what Trusttum has done, or sure about what kind of artist he is. The aim of this thesis is to offer an overview of Trusttum's art, to clear away the misconceptions obscuring his work, and ultimately provide the artist with an art historical identity. For convenience and clarity Trusttum's career has been divided into five chronological periods. These are not stylistic phases imposed by the artist. Each period is marked by a significant experience that has activated a shift in his artistic direction. The primary reason for a chronological approach is to provide a more orderly examination of this 'multi-faceted' artist. Such an approach will reveal how he became established during the 1960s, how he has held his position at the forefront of New Zealand art through a career of dramatic change and experimentation, and how, after thirty years of painting he has continued to hold the attention and, in fact, surprise, critics and art historians. Because Trusttum is such a prolific artist, it is impossible to discuss in detail even half of what he has produced throughout his career. Therefore, the intention of this thesis is to bring together a careful selection of works representative of each new step in his artistic evolution. Based on the findings revealed by a thorough examination of these works, and a study of Trusttum's influences, inspirations, techniques, materials and subject matter, the claims made by art historians and critics who have questioned the nature of the artist's style will be re-examined. Trusttum's style will then be re-assessed and redefined, so as to provide him with an individual artistic identity within the context of New Zealand art.