Confronting the ‘master narrative’: The privilege of orality in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Memorial University of Newfoundland]On: 06 October 2014, At: 10:07Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Cultural StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rcus20

    The colonial paintings of CharlesFrederick Goldie in the 1990s:The postcolonial Goldie and therewriting of historyLeonard BellPublished online: 23 Aug 2006.

    To cite this article: Leonard Bell (1995) The colonial paintings of Charles Frederick Goldiein the 1990s: The postcolonial Goldie and the rewriting of history, Cultural Studies, 9:1,26-42

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    http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • THE COLONIAL PAINTINGS OF CHARLES FREDERICK GOLDIE IN THE 1 990S: THE POSTCOLONIAL GOLDIE AND THE REWRITING OF HISTORY

    ne of the most successful artists (perhaps the most successful) in O New Zealand from the mid 1980s into the 1990s - successful in

    terms of market value and sales, attention from leading art galleries and museums, popular esteem, and space and time

    devoted to his work and career by the media, both print and electronic - is a painter, who died in Australia in 1947. That is C. F. Goldie, born in Auckland in 1870, trained in Paris, 1893-7, at the Academie Julian, at which the prestigious Academic painter, Bouguereau, had taught. From around 1900 Goldie specialized for the rest of his life in oil paintings of Maori - mostly single-figure studies of elderly models, in both Maori and European dress, resigned, melancholic or sleepy-looking, their physical appearance and accompanying artefacts meticulously detailed, and equipped with titles such as Memories, One of the Old School, The Last of the Chivalrous Days, A Noble Relic of a Noble Race. These paintings were anecdotal or narrative pictures, rather than portraits (Bell, 1980: 70-93; 1991: 88-92). They visualized, as the titles suggest, a past and a present that was largely a European invention; not just Goldie's, but one that had strong currency in late colonial culture generally - the notion of the 'passing' or the dying of the 'old time Maori' (Bell, 1980; 1992); at a time, it ought to be noted, when the Maori population was in fact rising, and many Maori, both individually and collectively, were resisting further colonialist encroach- ments on their remaining lands and cultural autonomy (Pool, 1977; Williams, 1969; Walker, 1990).

    With paintings of this kind, works that were technically and formally highly accomplished, Goldie quickly became very successful - financially, critically, popularly. In 1901 he was called 'the first painter in New Zealand' (Observer, 16 November 1901); one whose works would be praised 'even in the great art centres of the world' (Auckland Star, 28 June 1903), as indeed

    Cultural Studies 9(1) 1995: 26-42 1995 Routledge 0950-2386

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  • they were to be, particularly in London and Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1910 Goldie was described as 'probably the most successful painter of the Maori in a commercial sense' (New Zealand Freelance, 8 October 1910) - and, while at times in New Zealand his critical fortunes have ebbed, commercially his paintings have always been sought after, always at the top end of the art market. The commodity value of Goldies lept in the 1980s; in tandem with the global art market boom then, in particular with the reinvigorated market for paintings. With Goldie this climaxed in 1990, when the National Art Gallery, now part of the Museum of New Zealand, purchased two of his paintings, Darby and Joan and The Widow (both 1903), for $900,000, the highest price ever paid for paintings by a New Zealand artist.

    This acquisition generated immediate controversy. The Gallery bought the paintings from two art dealers, Dunbar Sloane of Dunbar Sloane and European Art Limited, an international art investment company based in Wellington, and Grahame Chote of the International Art Centre of Auckland. They had purchased, in a joint venture, the two works for $150,000 only shortly before. The enormous mark-up in price, the contentious nature of which was exacerbated by the fact that the National Art Gallery had been informally offered Darby and Joan and The Widow for $300,000 in 1989, attracted extensive media exposure and criticism of both the Gallery's administration and the dealers (North and South, April 1991: 53-63). During this brouhaha the artistic qualities of the paintings were also, often acrimoniously, debated.

    Goldie's paintings have struck chords in different socio-cultural milieux for a variety of reasons. From the outset his paintings of Maori subjects provided a prime model and stimulus for other European artists. Paintings in the manner of Goldie, sometimes straight copies, proliferated " from the 1910s and 1920s, for instance, in the work of Vera Cummings and Maud Burge, right through to the present with the paintings and illustrated books of, for example, Kristin Zambucka (1971) and Harry Sangl (1980). Goldie's paintings have been extensively reproduced - probably more so than any other New Zealand artist - in books, prints, posters, calendars, post and greeting cards, tapestries and bric-a-brac of various kinds. A recent newspaper article on tourism and the arts quoted the proprietor of a shop specializing in prints and reproductions: 'Tourists try to return home with a piece of New Zealand. Goldies are the first choice for the foreign clientele' (Sunday Star, 6 December 1992). There have been several large, very expensive, lavishly illustrated books on Goldie, some of which have themselves become collectors" items.1 The Auckland City Art Gallery will be mounting a large retrospective of Goldie's paintings in 1996 or 1997. Since the mid 1980s the life and works of Goldie have spawned a play by Peter Hawes, first staged at a leading Wellington theatre, the Downstage, and several television films; one titled Goldie: The Film and another which was part of a 1992 series, Bungay on Crime. 2 This dealt with the 1985 criminal prosecution of Karl Fedor Sim, otherwise a dealer and collector, for forging Goldies. Convicted on forty charges, Sim changed his surname to Goldie and

    CHARLES FREDERICK GOLDIE 27

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  • the initial of his first name to 'C'. Presumably any further paintings or drawings he produced in the manner of the original Goldie could legiti- mately be signed 'C. F. Goldie'. Goldie was also responsible for another celebrated court case; a libel case arising out of the National Art Gallery's purchase of the two Goldies in 1990 - a case which was front-page news and a primetime TV news item for a couple of weeks in 1992. 3

    The prestige of Goldie and his paintings, and their continuing life, have also led to paintings by a now forgotten late-nineteenth-century English artist with the same surname and first name being attributed to the New Zealand Goldie - namely two paintings in the Farm Street Jesuit Church in Mayfair, London. One of these represents the death in China of St Francis Xavier, coincidentally and aptly in the circumstances a Catholic patron saint of New Zealand. 4 Here you have an ironic reversal - the colonial or postcolonial Go|die 'consuming' his namesake in the imperial and metro- politan centre.

    T h e G O L D I E p h e n o m e n o n

    In various forms, in various media, then, Goldie's paintings, and Goldie, have posthumously proliferated and circulated - much more widely than in the lifetime of the artist. Charles Frederick Goldie, an actual person, has become a capitalized GOLDIE - not just a 'Great A