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James Gleeson pledges 16 million dollars to the Art Gallery of NSW

James Gleeson

I wanted others to enjoy the marvellous pleasure that art can provide.
James Gleeson AO.

Australia’s pre-eminent Surrealist painter, James Gleeson AO and his partner Frank O’Keefe, through the Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation, will give the Art Gallery of New South Wales $16 million to acquire works for the Gallery’s collection.

The Gallery is the sole beneficiary of their recently established Foundation. The Foundation has begun with six million dollars and is expected to grow in time to $16 million.

Edmund Capon, Director said today this is by far the largest fund ever established for the benefit of the Gallery and this generosity is unparalleled in the history of the institution.

The Foundation was set up to acquire and give to the Art Gallery of New South Wales works of lasting importance to the art and general communities.

A literary imagination and a masterful technique have typified the art of James Gleeson since the days of his indenture at East Sydney Technical College in the 1930s. Among the first Australian artists, loosely grouped to embrace surrealism, Gleeson, now 91, remains its last legitimate defender, although his colleague at the time and occasional collaborator, Robert Klippel, can be accorded the distinction in sculpture. Robert Klippel, who died in 2001, is widely regarded as Australia’s greatest sculptor.

Through the Foundation, the Art Gallery  recently purchased one of Robert Klippel’s most significant works from the 1970s, Opus 300.  James Gleeson, a long-standing close associate of Robert Klippel, said he was ‘thrilled’ with this purchase.

"The Gallery received an enormous boost to our collections by a gift from the artist’s son Andrew Klippel in 2003.  With that work and now the acquisition of Opus 300 through the Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation, the Art Gallery of New South Wales now houses two of those sculptures the artist considered to be his greatest works," said Edmund Capon.

Opus 300 is the Gleeson O’Keefe Foundation’s inaugural purchase.

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