The Art Gallery of New South Wales’s Edmund Capon talks to The Australian about his new memoir, I Blame Duchamp, and gets this surprising call for restraint:
In his 31 years as director, Capon has overseen the development of the gallery’s collections of Asian and indigenous art, and transformed a once moribund institution into what Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art director Liz Ann Macgregor describes as “one of the key institutions in the city”. “He’s a showman,” Macgregor says. “He has a good eye for the audience.”
In that sense, Capon’s thoughts on the future of the gallery are unexpected.
“I think we may need non-growth, which is a very hard one to sell,” he says. “Everybody thinks in terms of the traditional way, which is natural expansion of the building, growing the audience gradually, additional this, additional that, more contemporary, more Aboriginal, more Asian … that’s what we’ve embraced but, at the back of my mind constantly is the question of whether that’s the only way.”
He can visualise the gallery functioning adequately in a decade’s time, particularly with the new contemporary wing built to house the $35 million collection donated by John Kaldor and due to open in 2011.
But unless something dramatic happens, he says, “this place is going to implode in 50 years’ time”.
Showman with the Big Picture (The Australian)