Mrkusich: The Art of Transformation

Alan Wright & Edward Hanfling


‘This splendid book reveals the inventiveness of Mrkusich’s art over six decades: his patient, probing investigation of the infinite possibilities of line, shape, surface, space, and above all colour.’ – Jill Trevelyan, NZ Listener


Mrkusich: The Art of Transformation is the first substantial survey of the work of New Zealand’s leading abstract painter, Milan Mrkusich.

At the beginning of his career in the 1940s, Mrkusich faced widespread antagonism towards abstraction and relied on his work for the innovative design firm Brenner Associates in order to make a living. But by the early 1970s, he had established himself at the forefront of modernist developments in New Zealand art, held in the highest esteem by critics and artists alike for his resonant, mesmerising fields of colour. Mrkusich drew on ideas from art theory, alchemy and phenomenology as well as the work of international artists like Kandinsky, Mondrian and Nicholson, and later Poons, Kelly and Mangold, to create his own unique style.

This sumptuously produced book traces Mrkusich’s career over 60 years, from the early gouaches on paper, through the acclaimed ‘Emblems’ and ‘Corner’ series, to his most recent work where he approaches colour as an open field of discovery. Mrkusich: The Art of Transformation illuminates the subtle, painterly power and rich meanings in the work of one of New Zealand’s most significant living artists.



Alan Wright is a painter and an honorary research fellow in Art History at The University of Auckland, where until recently he was a senior lecturer. He is an expert on the work of leading abstractionist painter Milan Mrkusich.

Art historian Edward Hanfling is a freelance writer, curator and critic, writing often for leading art journal Art New Zealand. He has written essays or introductions for around a dozen exhibition related publications and regularly writes as an expert author for auction house catalogues. Together Wright and Hanfling wrote the catalogue Vuletic and his Circle to accompany the exhibition of the same name in 2003 at the Gus Fisher Gallery.


Shortlisted for New Zealand Post Book Awards: Illustrated Non-Fiction 2010.


March 2009, 290 x 270 mm, 256 pages, colour illustrations
Hardback, ISBN 9781869404376, $99.99