John Kaldor is an Australian art collector who helped Christo pull off one of their early projects in Sydney in 1969. On the occasion of a show of the public art projects he helped fund over 40 years, which happens to coincide with his gift of 260 works worth approximately A$35m, The Australian profiled the collector’s journey through art:
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s wrapping of Little Bay became the first in a series of significant art events over 40 years known as the Kaldor Public Art Projects. Sponsored and marketed by Kaldor, prominent international artists such as Gilbert and George, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Jeff Koons (whose 1995 installation Puppy, a 12m-high west highland terrier made of flowers, sat outside Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art for three months), Vanessa Beecroft, Barry McGhee, Bill Viola and Gregor Schneider have brought their work to Australian locations. […]
Kaldor’s art education had begun. During the next few months before the move to Australia, mother and son visited the Louvre, the Musee de l’Orangerie, the Musee Rodin and many more galleries.
Soon after arriving in Sydney, Kaldor was accepted as a student at Riverview St Ignatius College. After completing his higher school certificate he went to England to study textile design and manufacturing, then in 1955 studied at the Textile College of Zurich in Switzerland. Returning to Australia in 1957, he worked first for a Hobart textile manufacturer, then moved to Sydney. He says the audacious Little Bay project gave him the courage to start his own textile business, which he did in 1970.
Kaldor’s passion for art developed during his years in Europe. “Contemporary art really didn’t hit me, I suppose, until I was 23 or 24 years old,” he reflects. Once exposed, he was hooked.
Why contemporary art? “Contemporary art is now. It’s the art you can relate to in the best way, which is the environment it’s created in.” He pauses, then adds: “I said earlier I love Venetian and Renaissance and baroque art. But we don’t have a full and deep understanding of what it was like to live in those times, what artists had to deal with, what were the real issues of the day that moved them. We only get a partial understanding, really, which is still wonderful.
“But contemporary art completely engages you. You have more understanding of the time, because the time is now. It pushes boundaries.”
The Big Picture (The Australian)