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  • Apr 04, 2018

Tate and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia announce third round of joint acquisitions

Tate and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in Sydney have unveiled the third group of joint acquisitions as part of a five-year partnership sponsored by the Qantas Foundation. IMANTS TILLERS is pictured with MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor in front of his 1988 painting Kangaroo Blank, one of the newly acquired works. Photograph by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific.

On April 4, Dr. Maria Balshaw, director of London’s Tate galleries, arrived at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in Sydney to unveil the third round of joint acquisitions as part of a five-year program between the respective London and Sydney institutions. The program is supported by a AUD 2.75 million (USD 1.9 million) donation made by the charitable foundation of Australian airline Qantas, and was launched in 2015 to facilitate the purchase of works by Australian contemporary artists, which are then circulated between the MCA and Tate Modern under shared ownership.

Speaking at the launch, Balshaw acknowledged the talents of the five “phenomenal artists” whose works have been purchased. The latest acquisitions include the late Rosalie Gascoigne’s installation Habitation (1984), featuring weathered crates and enamel mugs imbued with a sense of timelessness; Blue Reflex (1966), an early painting by Ian Burn from his series of the same name; Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s Corn Cob Coil (1989), Corn Drawings (1985–89) and On the Origins of Art I–II (2016), all of which continue her exploration of the natural world; Love (1988) and Yawar Fiesta (Fiesta Sangrienta) (1998) by Juan Davila, whose paintings interrogate cultural, sexual and social identities; and Imants Tillers’s multi-panel painting Kangaroo Blank (1988), which is in dialogue with George Stubbs’s painting The Kongouro from New Holland (1772).

MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said the topic of shared ownership is being increasingly discussed by museums globally as prices for artworks escalate. “The partnership [between Tate and MCA] is one of the most important to showcase Australian art on the international stage, showing the range, diversity and excitement of Australian art,” she stated.

Balshaw added that it was Tate’s vision to promote both British and international art, and to share with its audience the diverse narratives of 21st century art, helping the public to better understand ongoing dialogues within the art world. 

Tillers, who was at the launch at the MCA, commented on how the program has increased the visibility of Australian art, explaining to ArtAsiaPacific how he had kept the work boxed up in his studio until curators from Tate and the MCA came knocking. “Having the work hang in the Tate couldn’t be better; I couldn’t be happier,” Tillers told AAP.

The current 2018 acquisition raises the number of Australian artists whose works are jointly held between the MCA and Tate to 12.

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