Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is excited to share the works of major European artists including Picasso, Braque, Cezanne, Gauguin and Matisse in a new exhibition of modern art.

Opening 9 February, The Robertson Gift: Paths through Modernity celebrates the monumental gift of these significant artworks from the collection of New York philanthropists Julian (1932–2022) and Josie Robertson (1943–2010) to Auckland Art Gallery.

The collection, promised to the Gallery in 2009, comprises 15 works from influential modern European artists, including Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dalí, André Derain, Henri Fantin-Latour, Paul Gauguin, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian and Pablo Picasso.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Director of Auckland Art Gallery, Kirsten Lacy says that the Gallery could not realise such a selection of artworks without Julian and Josie’s vision.

“Patronage of this scale is unprecedented, and the collection of modern masterpieces is unique. The Robertson’s gift is unquestionably the most transformative bequest of international art to the country in the past century,” says Lacy.

The couple divided their lives between New York and Aotearoa New Zealand ever since their first visit to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland in 1978–1979. The Robertson’s extraordinary gift acknowledges the lasting connections the couple formed with Aotearoa New Zealand and their passion for modern art.

Works from the collection have been exhibited at the Gallery previously in 2006, 2009 and 2011, creating a tremendous positive response from visitors.

Julian and Josie Robertson’s three sons, Spencer, Jay and Alex are excited to be returning to Aotearoa New Zealand for the unveiling of this momentous gift.

“Our parents were steadfast in their love and commitment to New Zealand, and we are proud to continue their vision. They were passionate in their belief that these beautiful pictures should be shared and enjoyed in their beloved New Zealand.”

“The Robertson’s legacy will transform our ability to tell the story of international modern art,enriching both Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa New Zealand,” adds Lacy.

Beginning with the suggestive nude bodies of the late 19th century and ending with a monumental colour-field painting from the 1960s, The Robertson Gift: Paths through Modernity takes visitors on a journey through the major art movements of the modern era,
including Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, and post-war abstraction.

Featuring 49 paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture, the exhibition also includes visitor favourites from the permanent collection as well as other important recent acquisitions and loans, offering a broad survey of the best of late-19th- and early-to-mid 20th-century international art.

The exhibition has been curated by Kenneth Brummel and Dr Sophie Matthiesson.

“Visitors to The Robertson Gift: Paths through Modernity will experience an elegant and lively display that includes works by some of the most celebrated figures of international modernism,” says Kenneth Brummel, Curator of International Art. “The exhibition is a feast for the eyes, and we are excited to share it with all visitors.”

The Robertson Gift: Paths through Modernity will be presented from 9 February 2024–February 2026. The exhibition is free admission.

Promised Gift of Julian and Josie Robertson (installation view), Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2011

Photo credit - Paul Cezanne, La route (Le mur d’enceinte). The Road (The Old Wall), 1875-1876, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Julian and Josie Robertson through the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation, 2023. 

Exhibition details:

The Robertson Gift: Paths through Modernity

When: Friday 9 February 2024 – February 2026, 10am–5pm daily
Where: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Admission: FREE