Louise Henderson

France / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1902, d.1994

The Farmhouse in Cornwall

  • Dame Louise Henderson Collection, presented by the McKegg Family, 1999
  • Oil on canvas
  • 848 x 1092mm
  • 99/82
  • 1957

Cubism came late to New Zealand art, some forty years after its heyday in Europe. In the 1940s and 1950s, it represented the cutting edge of progressive painting in this part of the world. Louise Henderson was one of its primary exponents. Many of her cubist compositions were based on buildings set in landscapes. Her interest in architectural forms, as well as the internal geometries of painting, had been acquired earlier, during the years she spent working in Christchurch and Wellington. ‘Here was a classical intellectual painter working on a planned line of development,’ wrote fellow artist Janet Paul on seeing a survey of Henderson’s work in 1954. ‘A painter whose concentration on form does not obscure a fine use of colour and who can use cubism not as a “fag end” to be worked out, but as a pertinent method to convey her own most individual perception and emotion.’

(March 2018)

earlier labels about this work
  • In Modern Times, 18 December 2015 – 11 September 2016

    Paris-born Louise Henderson (née Sauze) arrived in Christchurch in 1925 after marrying a New Zealander. Her background as a designer led to her teaching embroidery and design from 1926 at the Canterbury College School of Art. She also began painting and exhibiting locally from 1933, mainly with The Group, a Christchurch art association which existed from 1927-77.

    The Hendersons left Christchurch in 1941 for Wellington, and in 1950 moved to Auckland, where Louise, encouraged by John Weeks, began to experiment with pure abstraction. In 1952, she travelled to Europe for further study, including in Paris at the studio of Jean Metzinger, an early protégé of the founding cubists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Her new work gained considerable exposure in New Zealand. A period of intensive travel followed, through her husband's career, in Europe and the Middle East. This work displays the influences Henderson was continuing to draw from at that time, particularly post-cubist developments in European art.