The emptiness of all endeavour, 1980

Record number

The emptiness of all endeavour

synthetic polymer paint
3 unstretched canvases
1. 1815 x 1190 mm
2. 642 x 1812 mm
3. 902 x 2006 mm

1. The emptiness of all endeavour [sic]." ECCLESIASTES. C. McC. MAY. '80. The first one (brushpoint, b.l.-b.c.); THE NEW ENGLISH BIBLE. (brushpoint, b.r.)
2. "The emptiness of all endeavour." ECCLESIASTES. C. McC. MAY '80. THE SECOND ONE. (brushpoint, b.l.)
3. "The emptiness of all endeavour." ECCLESIASTES. CMcC MAY '80. The Third One. (brushpoint, b.l.-b.c.); THE NEW ENGLISH BIBLE (brushpoint, b.r.)

Extended inscriptions

1. All is empty-
I, the speaker, ruled as King
over Israel in Jerusalem; and in
wisdom I applied my mind top study
and explore all that is done under
heaven. It is a sorry business that
GOD has given men to busy themselves
with. I have seen all the deeds that are done
here under the sun; they are all emptiness
and chasing the wind. What is crooked
cannot become straight; what is not there
cannot be counted. So applied my mind to
understand wisdom and knowledge, madness
and folly, and I came to see that this too is chasing
the wind. For in much wisdom there is much
vexation, and the more a man knows,
the more he has to suffer

2. I set myself to look at wisdom and at madness and folly
then I perceived that wisdom is more profitable than folly
as light is more profitable than darkness: the wise man has eyes
in his head, but the fool walks in the dark. yet I saw also that
one and the same fate overtakes tem both. So I said to myself
I too shall suffer the fate of the fool. To what purpose have I been wise?
What is the profit in it? Even this: I said to myself: is emptiness.

3. all things are wearisome no Man can
speak of them all.
-is not the eye surfeited
with seeing and the ear with
what has happened will happen again,
and what has been done will be done again,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
is there anything of which one can
look this is new
No, it has already existed
long ago before our time.
The Men of old are not remembered,
and those that follow will not be remembered by those who follow them

Exhibition history

1980 Two Recent Oils by Colin McCahon
Peter McLeavey Gallery
12/8/1980 - 29/8/1980

1981 Colin McCahon's 'Paul to Hebrews 1980'
Peter McLeavey Gallery
1981 - 1981

1999 Toi Toi Toi: Drei Kunstlergenerationen aux Nueseeland
Museum Fridericianum
23/1/1999 - 5/4/1999

2002 Colin McCahon: A Question of Faith
Stedelijk Museum
30/8/2002 - 10/11/2002


The text for this work is from Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:20