The Crucifixion according to St Mark

Colin McCahon, The Crucifixion according to St Mark, 1947, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Colin McCahon was a prominent New Zealand artist in the twentieth century.  McCahon was interested in connecting the religion of the Bible with his land, New Zealand.  After the WWII he started a series based on his love of Renaissance paintings. Just as Renaissance painters put biblical stories in their own context, so McCahon set the stories in his own landscape and time.

Here, the landscape is simple and modern with quotations from St. Mark’s gospel in speech bubbles that reference pop culture. The sky is gold, like the gold leaf of an icon. The crucifixion is in the center with Mary and the Apostle John on the left. To the right, a church is struck by a lightning bolt or an atomic explosion. Renaissance painters also liked to put themselves in their work and here McCahon places his profile looking in from the bottom right edge.


A gospel is an account that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

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