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Qantas backs eight new Australian art acquisitions

April 6, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Qantas is involved in a lot more than flying – and contemporary Australian art is among the airline’s interests.

Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and Dr Maria Balshaw CBE, Director of Tate, yesterday announced the acquisition of eight new artworks in their International Joint Acquisition Program for contemporary Australian art, supported by Qantas.

Now in its third year, the partnership between Tate, MCA and Qantas continues to enrich both museums’ holdings of Australian art, helping Australian artists reach global audiences.

Ranging from an early moment in the history of Australian contemporary art through to recent work, the depth and diversity of Australian art practice is represented in this third round of acquisitions. It includes works by artists who forged new ground in Australian contemporary art, paving the way for others, through to that of younger artists.

Maria Fernanda Cardoso. On the Origins of Art 2, 1966

The early works of Maria Fernanda Cardoso and Rosalie Gascoigne reveal how everyday readymade materials can be transformed into extraordinary poetic assemblages and sculptures. Juan Davila’s Love (1988) painting is a prescient commentary on the AIDS crisis as a global phenomenon, whilst his also acquired massive Yawar Fiesta (1998) explores the impact of colonial policies on indigenous peoples through satiric intertwining of contemporary politics and art historical references including European history painting, Latin American modernism, American pop and Aboriginal art.

Also included in this round of acquisitions are Blue Reflex (1966), an early painting by Ian Burn, considered one of the key voices in the development of conceptual art in Australia, and Kangaroo Blank, a 1988 painting by Imants Tillers, whose work from the 1980s, along with that of Davila, is part of an international dialogue about appropriation and postmodernism in painting.

Imants Tillers. Kangaroo Blank. 1988

To date – halfway through the five-year program – 20 works by 12 artists and artist partnerships have been acquired for the Collections of Tate and MCA, a grouping of artworks which reveal and convey something of the complexities of Australian society, as well as the richness of contemporary art practice across the country.

The acquisitions are by artists from a range of cultural backgrounds, including prominent Aboriginal artists Vernon Ah Kee, Richard Bell, Gordon Bennett and Judy Watson. These, along with works by artists such as Juan Davila, Peter Kennedy and John Hughes, Helen Johnson and Imants Tillers, pose difficult questions about Australian history and society, or in the case of Susan Norrie’s video work Transit (2011), focus our attention on international events and their impact upon the ways we think about the world.

Just as significantly, the first three years of the program saw acquisitions across a variety of media, from video through to painting and printmaking, reflecting the expanded material basis of contemporary art.

The International Joint Acquisition Program, made possible through a AUD 2.75 million corporate gift from the Qantas Foundation, is a ground-breaking collaboration announced in 2015 is enabling an ambitious five-year joint program through which a range of major artworks by contemporary Australian artists will be acquired for the collections of MCA and Tate, owned and displayed by both institutions.

Edited by William Sykes

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