Author(s): Gregory O'Brien and Mark Hutchins-Pond
There were many Melvin Days, but the term Artist encompasses all of them. During a career spanning seven decades, he produced some of the most intellectually astute, yet often visceral, paintings in New Zealand art history. Born in Hamilton in 1923, Day was a radical but also a great believer in tradition. In recent years, his early Cubist-inclined paintings have reinstated him as a key figure in mid-20th century New Zealand art. In London during the 1960s, he was a vital and talented figure in an expatriate scene. By later that decade he had become the most highly-qualified art historian in New Zealand and had returned home to spend a turbulent, but creatively rich, decade as director of the National Art Gallery.