Tuesday, 26 January 2010
40 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects
In 1969 artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude came to Sydney and wrapped the rocky coastline at Little Bay; two-and-a-half kilometres of coast and cliffs up to 26 metres high. It was the largest single artwork that had ever been made at the time. One of the first major land art projects anywhere in the world, it was made possible by a young Australian collector, John Kaldor.
Most Australians had never heard of Christo and Jeanne-Claude until John Kaldor invited them to wrap the coastline in Sydney. Their wrapping of Little Bay was an unprecedented work of conceptual art which proved a catalyst for a burgeoning avant-garde in Australia.
There were more to follow. In 1973 Kaldor brought out Gilbert & George who were then fresh out of St Martin’s School of Art in London where they had introduced the idea of ‘living sculpture’. They performed The Singing Sculpture at the Gallery. Dressed very formally and carrying canes, with their hands and faces painted like polished bronze, they climbed up onto a table and began miming to the iconic wartime British tune ‘Underneath the arches’.
In 1995 one of the best known of the Kaldor projects was Jeff Koons’ Puppy outside Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. This gigantic sculpture, over 12 metres high, towered in front of the MCA looking out towards the Sydney Opera House.