press release

Celebrating forty years since Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the coast of Australia for the first Kaldor Public Art Project

To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Kaldor Public Art Projects in Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales presents a survey exhibition and latest Kaldor project by Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi.

John Kaldor has been collecting and commissioning art since the late 1950s and since 1969 has shared his love of art with the Australian public through his series of art projects. His first project was Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, 1968–69 covering two-and-a-half kilometres of Sydney's coastline with fabric. It was an extraordinary and unprecedented initiative for Australia and one of the most ambitious experiments in land art anywhere in the world.

Since then, Kaldor has brought the most innovative and groundbreaking art to Australia. Following the Wrapped Coast, in 1971 Kaldor brought Harald Szeemann to Australia to curate Australia's first museum exhibition of conceptual art. In 1973 Gilbert & George presented their first major work The Singing Sculpture, in both Sydney and Melbourne, and Miralda created Coloured Feast and Coloured Bread in Sydney in the same year.

Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman visited Adelaide and Sydney in 1976 with an exhibition of newly created video works and more than 40 performances, including Charlotte's rendition of Sky Kiss drifting above the Sydney Opera House suspended by coloured balloons. The following year, Sol LeWitt came to Australia to create wall drawings in Sydney and Melbourne, and Richard Long to make new works within the Australian landscape.

Another of the most popular projects was Jeff Koons' 12-metre high floral Puppy, displayed along the Sydney harbourfront in 1995 before finding its permanent home outside the Guggenheim Bilbao. More recently, Gregor Schneider's 21 beach cells on Bondi Beach transformed this iconic site with a maze of wire-mesh. Last year for their Kaldor projects, Bill Viola presented works in a public church in Sydney and Martin Boyce created an ambitious new installation within the Old Melbourne Goal.

The exhibition 40 years: Kaldor Public Art Projects at the Art Gallery of New South Wales presents artworks from the projects, archival material, photographs and unique film and television footage. It will be accompanied by a substantial book documenting each of the Kaldor projects and including essays by Anthony Bond, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Daniel Thomas and Adam Free, and an interview with John Kaldor by Nicholas Baume.

To coincide with the exhibition, Kaldor has invited Tatzu Nishi, a Japanese conceptual artist based in Cologne, for another ambitious project. Nishi will transform two grand equestrian sculptures outside the Art Gallery of New South Wales with his new work War and peace and in between, enclosing these sculptures within domestic rooms and creating surreal environments that visitors can enter.

40 YEARS: Kaldor Public Art Projects 1969-2009

Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Tatzu Nishi, Harald Szeemann, Gilbert & George, Nam June Paik / Charlotte Moorman, Sol Le Witt, Richard Long, Jeff Koons, Gregor Schneider, Bill Viola, Martin Boyce ...