OUP, $59.95 hb
On the 28th ultimo, a warrant under the Undesirable Immigrants Exclusion Act, was issued by the Attorney General for the arrest of Noel Jack Counihan pending his deportation to Australia. Description: Age about thirty, height 5ft. 10in., native of Australia, slight build, dark-brown hair, thin features: usually well-dressed in a navy-blue suit; sometimes draws caricature sketches for newspapers; he is a very active member of the Peace and Anti-conscription Council in Wellington, and is also actively associated with the Communist Party. He was recently married to Treasur Edwards, and it is thought that they may endeavour to leave New Zealand.
His extract from the 1940 New Zealand Police Gazette reproduced on the back cover of this splendidly designed biography acts as a striking metaphor for the life and times of Noel Counihan, artist and revolutionary. The subtitle encapsulates the story for, unlike most Australian artists, Counihan was both artist and active political revolutionary and in the story of his life it is impossible to separate the two. In Bernard Smith, art critic and historian, he has found the perfect biographer, both sympathetic to his point of view as an artist and a man but with a comprehensive critical understanding of the limitations and strengths of that ideology. It is a valuable biography illuminating a turbulent time not from the more fashionable viewpoint of the Modernists collected around their patrons, the Reeds of Heide, but from the vantage point of the Marxists and the Realists.