Milan Mrkusich

b. 1925d. 2018

Milan Mrkusich was born in Dargaville, of Dalmatian decent. Two years later the family moved to Auckland. Mrkusich began painting in the 1940s inspired by modernist art he found in the only art-sources available at that time: magazines and books, notably including a book on the German Bauhaus School of Architecture and Applied Arts held at the Auckland Public Library.

In 1949 he became a partner in the Bauhaus-influenced architectural and design firm Brenner Associates. He started working as a full-time painter in 1958, and was also involved in a "Church Design Group". In 1997 he was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to painting, and in 2003 was awarded the status of Icon Artist by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Mrkusich completed several large-scale and site-specific works during his artistic career. These include: a mosaic mural on the B. J. Ball Building overlooking Fanshawe Street, Auckland designed in 1959, the stained glass windows at Grey Lynn’s St Joseph’s Catholic Church, designed between 1959 and 1960, stained-glass windows for the Chapel of St Andrew in Quay Street’s Seafarers’ Memorial Centre, Auckland. These were salvaged before the Chapel was demolished in 1993 and are now permanently installed in the NZ Maritime Museum’s Edmiston Gallery of Maritime Art on the Viaduct.

In 1994, Mrkusich, along with 11 other invited artists and designers, submitted a proposal for an artwork for the exterior of Te Papa’s then unconstructed Cable Street building. Mrkusich won the commission and his array of coloured enamel-on-glass panels, two storeys high and running the length of the building along Cable Street were installed ready for the museum’s grand opening in 1998.

In 2014 a significant exhibition of Mrkusich's work was curated by Alice L. Hutchison for Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art & History: "Milan Mrkusich: Chromatic Investigations and Works from the 90's".

See also:

Milan Mrkusich, ‘Mosaic Mural for BJ Ball Building’ (1958), Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021