From the thesis:
Straightforwardness returned again in the early nineties. It came back with the Auckland City Art Gallery’s 1950s Show, the largest and most popular exhibition the Gallery had yet hosted, in 1992. To mark the occasion, Landfall, which had thrived in the fifties, published an edition devoted to the decade, although it appeared in April of the following year. Francis Pound, one of the Guest Curators of the show, was Guest Editor of the edition. He saw the decade as a thing of the past:
The art and literature of the 1950s are today of largely archaeological interest. They have become an ancient artifact, and with something of such an artifact’s fascination, its exotic glamour of otherness. Yet it is today’s very distance from that decade—its very otherness—which makes it available to historical consciousness. We see it now as if in Albertian perspective, diminished in size and detail, in inverse ratio to its distance from the observing eye. Its distance from today—from New Zealand art and writing’s present concerns—makes of it an intelligible object of study, with its devices and suppositions become visible, discernible now as pattern—a curious and archaic pattern, splendidly wrought.
Pound’s edition included essays on various aspects of the culture of the decade but these did not include architecture. This is curious, given Landfall’s previous contributions to architectural debate and the strength of architectural display in the exhibition. The architect Tim Nees, writing in the art magazine Glory Glory, was particularly taken with the architecture: “The Group Architects form a strong focus, and rightly so, for they have been influential and inspirational for subsequent generations….The full scale reconstruction, however, of the living room of the Group Architect’s First House, complete with repainted mural, is a delight to encounter.”
There was none of this in Landfall. However, Tomory’s ideas about colonial brutalism did make a return, in the guise of art. Leonard Bell, writing of “Landfall, the ‘primitive’ and the Visual Arts”, quoted Tomory’s phrase “colonial brutalism”, but as Clark and Walker note “any reference to architecture is excised.” Bell, writing about Tomory’s lecture, cut the phrase out of its architectural setting and relocated it to an earlier part, so making it appear Tomory had used this phrase to describe the work of the painter Petrus Van der Velden. Thus, colonial brutalism becomes a quality of art, in the absence of any appropriate art theory. Clark and Walker had observed of Bell’s misappropriation, “a post holding up a carport has evolved into a cultural condition”, but it seems more to have been forced into a role for which it was never intended.
Some fifteen years later, and nine years after the publication of Looking for the Local, Pound himself used “colonial brutalism” thrice in The Invention of New Zealand, his study of New Zealand’s modern art. Like Bell, Pound gives the impression Tomory coined the phrase to describe painting, although in his second footnote he does disclose that Tomory was referring to architecture. It remains to be seen whether these are isolated incidents or whether a struggle between art historians and architectural historians for colonial brutalism is playing out over decades.