Wednesday, April 11, 2012
William McAloon, 1969-2012
I am deeply, deeply saddened to learn of the death of William McAloon, one of New Zealand's foremost curators and art historians. An old friend. As a writer, you have an imaginary close reader, a person whom, as you write, you envisage reading your writing and commenting favourably or unfavourably on your style and the development of your ideas and your means of expression. William was that person for me. He was, without any possible doubt, the best New Zealand art writer of our generation. He set a standard which I strain to meet and of which I am always conscious. We were at university together in Christchurch in the 1980s, and there was a time when he would read what I'd written and critique it for me; and even now, as I write, I still imagine his snort and his slow grin and the raise of a sardonic eyebrow as he'd put the pages down.
At the end of the introduction to his biggest book, Art at Te Papa (2009), he wrote that the national art collection is a treasure, which enriches our present and remains a challenge for the future. With William's untimely death, the New Zealand art world has lost one of its most well-informed and quick-witted critics and historians. The work that he has left behind enriches our cultural history; and its intellectual standard remains a challenge for our future.