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50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects On View in Australia

  • An installation view of the box for Kaldor Public Art Project 30 Marina Abramovic
  • An installation view of the entrance to the exhibition Making art public
October 1, 2019
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

In 1969, Australian art collector and philanthropist John Kaldor, at the time a successful textile manufacturer, founded an extraordinary organization called the Kaldor Public Art Projects, as the title suggests, focused on public art. Ever since, this valuable initiative has been supporting the production of some of the most important examples of public art made by the likes of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Richard Long, Gilbert and George, Sol LeWitt, and others.

In 2019, the Kaldor Public Art Projects is celebrating five decades of their work with an exhibition Making Art Public: 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects at The Art Gallery of New South Wales which holds Caldor’s grand collection gifted by the patron to the gallery in 2008.

An installation view of the exhibition Making art public by Christo
An installation view of the exhibition Making art public, 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects at the Art Gallery of New South Wales featuring Christo, Two Wrapped Trees, 1969. © Christo. Photo: Jenni Carter

The Kaldor-Landy Collaboration

The director of the Kaldor Public Art Projects John Kaldor met Michael Landy in 2001 in London, when the artist destroyed his personal belongings in a performance piece called Break Down. Afterward, Kaldor contacted Landy to produce a new work in Australia and ten years later Acts of kindness (2011) was made as the 24th Kaldor Public Art Project.

The two met again in 2018, when Kaldor approached Landy with a proposal to be a curator of the 50th-anniversary exhibition of the Kaldor Public Art Projects. Landy said yes, and decided to abandon the archivist approach in order to deliver a more bolder concept. The current exhibition is the 35th Kaldor Public Art Project and the second project that Landy curated.

An installation view of Making art public by Gilbert and George
An installation view of Making art public: 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, with the box for Kaldor Public Art Project 3: Gilbert & George The Singing Sculpture and Agatha Gothe-Snape’s performance work Lion’s honey 2019. © the artists. Photo: John Gollings

50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects

Landy decided to combine artworks with performances, archival materials, elements of past projects, and audience participation to articulate properly the achieved results in the past fifty years. All of that will be followed by Landy’s humongous drawing encompassing all thirty-four projects in a single formation. The director of the Art Gallery of NSW which hosts the exhibition Dr. Michael Brand stated the following:

The first initiative of its type anywhere in the world, Kaldor Public Art Projects has continued to redefine the boundaries for public art in the 20th and 21st century by assisting contemporary artists with the realization of projects that are truly the stuff of their dreams. Whether it’s the 60,000 cascading plants in Jeff Koons’ monolithic Puppy (1996); Gilbert & George singing for five hours a day in the Art Gallery of NSW entrance court; the 20,000 square meters of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden transformed by Jonathan Jones’ installation of 15,000 gypsum shields or the large-scale participatory performance of Marina Abramović; John Kaldor and Kaldor Public Art Projects have supported the staging of transformational works of public art.

An installation view of the box for Kaldor Public Art Project
An installation view of the box for Kaldor Public Art Project 10: Jeff Koons, Puppy, 12 Dec 1995 – 17 Mar 1996, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney as part of the exhibition Making art public, 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. © Jeff Koons. Photo: John Gollings

Making Art Public at the Art Gallery of NSW

The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive programing including Art After Hours: Unwrapping 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects, a three-night-long series of extensive talks determining the transformative potential of art, an exciting International Curators’ Panel titled Making art public, including distinct representatives of exhibition space which supported public art throughout the years, as well as Living Archives study sessions, aimed to provide unique access to a rich archive of the project on monthly basis during the exhibit.

Making art public: 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects will be on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 16 February 2020.

Featured images: An installation view of the box for Kaldor Public Art Project 30: Marina Abramović, Marina Abramović: in residence, 24 Jun – 5 Jul 2015, Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay, Sydney, as part of the exhibition Making art public, 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. © Marina Abramović. Photo: John Gollings; An installation view of the entrance to the exhibition Making art public, 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects at the Art Gallery of New South Wales featuring Michael Landy, Mate, what’s this shit? 2019, Drawing for Kaldor Public, Art Project 35 and Kaldor Public Art Project 5: Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik Charlotte Moorman performs Sky Kiss, composition by Jim McWillliams, above the Sydney Opera House Forecourt as part of the project Moorman + Paik, 11 April 1976. © the artists Photo: John Gollings.