Max Gimblett Reflects On a Life of Love, Art And Freedom

“Internationally renowned New Zealand painter Max Gimblett credits his wife as his greatest supporter, and his leading critic.” Warren Feeney reports for Stuff.

“Born in Auckland in 1935 and based in New York since 1972, Gimblett is back in New Zealand accompanied by his wife of almost 55 years, academic Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.”

“Kirshenblatt-Gimblett says when she met Gimblett she thought he was the most unique human being on the planet.”

“He was such an unusual, exceptional, special person,” she said.

“Their relationship gives Gimblett unlimited access to his leading critic,” writes Feeney.

“Barbara knows much about my work and talks about it with me. She has always been of the opinion that my drawing is the key and I have done a lot of drawing,” said Gimblett.

On becoming a painter, Gimblett said: “One afternoon as I sat at home, I did a self-portrait looking in a mirror. It was somewhat Cezanne-ish somewhat van Gogh but mainly me.”

“Barbara came home from university and looked at it and said ‘you are a painter’, and I said ‘yes I am’. The next day I went to the paint shop. I bought some paints and canvas and did my first painting.”

“Gimblett has been coming to New Zealand every year, but this is Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s first trip here in 12 years.”

“For Max it is a homecoming, but the main reason for our visit is the awarding of an honorary doctorate from AUT (Auckland University of Technology), which is a great honour,” said Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.

“The joy, the pride that Max and I take in the other person’s success and the ways in which we try to make it possible for the other person to realise their greatest dreams and wishes – Max has done that for me consistently. That is the absolute key to our success in being able to fulfil ourselves as people and as professionals in our field.”

Max’s work is represented in major collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the National Gallery of Australia, Melbourne, and the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, and in New Zealand at the Auckland Art Gallery, Christchurch Art Gallery, and Te Papa.

Toronto-born Barbara is Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, and University Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University. She was a University of Auckland Foundation Visitor in 1998. In New Zealand she will be speaking at universities and museums on the thousand-year journey of Polish Jews, and the role of Holocaust museums as agents of transformation.

AUT have awarded Max their Doctorate for his outstanding and sustained contribution to the arts. Following Max’s studies at King’s Prep and Auckland Grammar, he attended ‘Money, Banking, and Finance,’ a three-year night class at Seddon Memorial College and graduated in 1955 as an Associate of the New Zealand Institute of Management. AUT is to formally present Max with the Honorary Doctorate at a ceremony at the Auckland Art Gallery on March 13.

“Max Gimblett’s work personifies all that is contemporary, complex, diverse and impactful – traits AUT strives to embody in the education space – so it is a privilege to recognise him with an Honorary Doctorate,” said AUT Vice-Chancellor, Derek McCormack.

His New Zealand exhibitions include “Asia and the Pacific” at the Nadene Milne Gallery in Christchurch, from February 26 and at the Nadene Milne Gallery in Arrowtown, opening  February 27, and “Creation” at Page Blackie Gallery in Wellington opening March 7. His work “Sonata by Midnight” is currently being shown in Auckland’s Gow Langsford Gallery group exhibition “Almost Blue.”  Max will also lead two public Sumi Ink Workshops at AUT on March 16.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett will present a masterclass on “Museums and the Politics of History” at Victoria University on March 7, lecture on “Curating Between Hope and Despair: Creating POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews” at Te Papa on March 8 and the University of Auckland on March 12, and speak on “Beyond Living Memory: The Future of Holocaust Museums” at the Auckland University of Technology on March 11. Max and Barbara will appear together on February 27 in the talk “An Artist and a Scholar” at Dorothy Brown’s Cinema, Arrowtown.

After living and working on New York’s Bowery for 44 years, Max and Barbara move to a new home, studio and office on Broadway in Lower Manhattan when they return from their New Zealand tour. In 2015, Max received the New Zealand Order of Merit.  In 2017 Max was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato for his philanthropy and achievements in the artistic world. The sale of his signature quatrefoil works In 2017 enabled a $1 million donation for the preservation of St David’s, the Soldier’s Memorial Church in Grafton, Auckland.

Barbara was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for her contribution to POLIN Museum. She serves on Advisory Boards for the Council of American Jewish Museums, Jewish Museum Vienna, Jewish Museum Berlin, and the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, and advises on museum and exhibition projects in Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Costa Rica and Israel.

Article Source: Stuff, Warren Feeney, March, 04, 2019

Additional reporting by NZEDGE

Image Source: YouTube

Tags: Auckland  Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett  Max Gimblett  

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