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Philanthropists gift contemporary art work to Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Twelve important modern works of art by internationally renowned artists have been gifted to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. The works, which were given by well-known art collectors Eric and Jean Cass through the Contemporary Art Society, include two lithographs by the famous Surrealist Joan Miró and a major work by Dutch artist Karel Appel and will be exhibited at National Museum Cardiff from 4 May until 21 July 2013.

 

Over the last 35 years, Eric and Jean Cass, who live in Surrey, established an outstanding and very personal collection of over 300 sculptures, ceramics, drawings, prints and paintings, which have been given to the Contemporary Art Society for allocation to public institutions and to support contemporary art in the UK. The gift totals over £4 million.

 

Amongst the Eric and Jean Cass gift to Amgueddfa Cymru are four lithographs by the Catalan artist Joan Miró. One of the lithographs is called Miró and was produced in the 1970s as a poster to advertise Miró’s original prints being available to purchase at Vision Nouvelle, Paris. The colourful design and abstract forms are typical of the work of Miró, who became famous for his part in the Surrealist group in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s. 

 

Others include The City, 1982, an oil on canvas by Karel Appel, which shows a naked woman and a dog roaming through a desolate landscape of skyscrapers. It deals with the subject of city decay and poverty inspired by Karel Appel’s experience of the streets of New York in 1981. There is also a painting, Private Waltz,1989, acrylic on cotton duck, which is a large gestural abstract work by British artist John Hoyland. (List below)

 

In 1969, Eric Cass worked closely with architect Brian Sapseid to design a house called Bleep. The name Bleep is in recognition of Cass Electronics and the high-pitched sound emitted by paging receivers marketed by the company. The open plan, modern architecture of the house encouraged Eric to start purchasing modern and contemporary art to fill their home.

 

Both made an early decision to donate their collection to museums and galleries in the UK, so that audiences from around the country would be able enjoy the works. The Contemporary Art Society was appointed to manage the distribution of the Cass Gift, nominating seven institutions from its network of 65 member museums across the UK to receive works. The seven nominated museums were invited to pitch to receive works that would complement or enliven their current collections.  Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales was nominated as one of the beneficiaries alongsideGallery of Modern Art (Glasgow), Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh), The Royal Pavilion and Museums (Brighton) and Wolverhampton Art Galler.y

 

Melissa Munro, Derek Williams Curator, said,

 

“We are extremely grateful to Eric and Jean Cass and the Contemporary Art Society for their generous gift which was part of their personal collection and which will greatly benefit the Amgueddfa Cymru collections.  To have been selected for this gift demonstrates the regard in which the National Museum Wales collections are held and I hope visitors enjoy seeing the works of art on display at National Museum Cardiff from 4 May.”

 

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, said:

 

“This tremendously generous gift from Eric and Jean Cass is of incalculable cultural and financial value to institutions and audiences across the UK and is an example of selfless philanthropy. Eric and Jean have built their collection with great passion, care and intelligence, always knowing that the works would in time enter public collections where the pleasure they have had privately would be shared with the widest audience nationally, now and in the future. It is typical of this enlightened couple that they would aspire to benefit audiences no matter where they live, recognising that artists and audiences seed their imaginations through experiencing these important local collections. We look forward to the opening of the display in Cardiff”

 

The Contemporary Art Society is a national charity that encourages an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in the UK. With the help of our members and supporters we raise funds to purchase works by new artists which we give to museums and public galleries where they are enjoyed by a national audience; we broker significant and rare works of art by important artists of the twentieth century for public collections through our networks of patrons and private collectors; we establish relationships to commission artworks and promote contemporary art in public spaces; and we devise programmes of displays, artist talks and educational events. Since 1910 we have donated over 8,000 works to museums and public galleries - from Bacon, Freud, Hepworth and Moore in their day through to the influential artists of our own times - championing new talent, supporting curators, and encouraging philanthropy and collecting in the UK.

 

For more information on the Eric and Jean Cass gift please visit: http://www.contemporaryartsociety.org/our-work-with-public-collections/the-eric-jean-cass-gift

 

 

Entry to National Museum Cardiff is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

 

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. 

 

- Ends –

 

For more information, please contact Lleucu Cooke, Communications Officer, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales on 029 2057 3175 or e-mail: lleucu.cooke@museumwales.ac.uk.

 

 

Notes to Editors:

 

Art works gifted to Amgueddfa Cymru by Eric and Jean Cass through the Contemporary Art Society:

 

Karel Appel (1921-2006)

 

The City, 1982, oil on canvas by Karel Appel, shows a naked woman and a dog roaming through a desolate landscape of skyscrapers. It deals with the subject of city decay and poverty inspired by Karel Appel’s experience of the streets of New York in 1981. The paint is applied thickly, in broad expressive strokes. The primitive lines, which form the figures and the buildings, mimic the simplicity of children’s drawings.

 

Appel was born in Amsterdam in 1921. In 1946, following his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam, Appel travelled to Denmark and there met the Danish artists who would form part of his International Cobra group in 1948. This group rejected the western rationalist approach to art and embraced primitivism, childlike art and explored diverse ways of commenting upon the human condition. Appel broke from this group in 1952. He went on to become part of Art Informel. Among the members of this group were American Abstract Expressionists, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.

 

Eric Cass developed an early admiration for the work of Appel and also purchased a major sculpture by Appel titled Tête Soleil, 1966, which has been gifted to Wolverhampton Museum and Art Gallery.

 

 

John Hoyland (1934-2011)

 

Private Waltz,1989, acrylic on cotton duck, is a large gestural abstract work by British artist John Hoyland.

The paint is dripped and spattered onto the canvas displaying the action of painting itself. Hoyland’s work was inspired by the American Abstract Expressionists, a group of abstract painters who emerged in New York in the 1940s and included Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Robert Mortherwell among others. Hoyland met some of these artists while on a trip to New York in 1965 following the receipt of a travel bursary from the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation. In 1979, he spoke of the critical response to an exhibition of his own work at the Whitechapel Gallery;

 

‘…everyone went on about the colour. In fact I really hadn’t thought about colour very much: it had been the least of my preoccupations.  I wanted brilliant, full, unmixed colour, but basically it was reds, greens and oranges. I was much more preoccupied with shape, where to locate colours, what kind of shapes to use and so on. This was all in the wake of Rothko, etc. – it was trying to come to terms with those paintings of his, but knowing that one couldn’t go on making them that simple. I just happened to like those colours, and I still do. But the ways edges met, how colours impinged upon one another, and the way that that affected the space was much more of a problem.’ 

 

Hoyland was born in Sheffield in 1934 and studied at Sheffield College of Art from 1951 to 1956.

 

Private Waltz was painted in 1989, when Hoyland travelled to Minorca, Jamaica and Italy. Eric and Jean Cass initially purchased a platter by John Hoyland in 1987 - which is also part of the Eric and Jean Cass gift to the Museum - but continued to search for a painting to accompany it in the collection. They purchased Private Waltz in 1990.

 

 

Joan Miró (1893-1983)

 

Amongst the Eric and Jean Cass Gift are four lithographs by the Catalan artist Joan Miró. One of the lithographs is called Miró and was produced in the 1970s as a poster to advertise Miró’s original prints being available to purchase at Vision Nouvelle, Paris. The colourful design and abstract forms are typical of the work of Miró, who became famous for his part in the Surrealist group in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s. 

 

Also among this group of lithographs is L’Enfance D’Ubu, 1975. The simplicity of line is deliberately childlike to illustrate the childhood adventures of Ubu. This series of work was inspired by the character of Ubu in Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi. Miró read the play several times and illustrated a collector’s edition in 1966. He produced his own book called Ubu’s Childhood or L’Enfance D’Ubu in 1975. Ubu’s Childhood consists of Catalan and Majorcan sayings and humour collected by the artist, in-keeping with the character of Ubu.

 

Joan Miró was born in Barcelona in 1893. He began studying art at the age of fourteen at the La Lonja School of Fine Art. In 1920, during his first trip to Paris, Miró visited the studio of Pablo Picasso and attended a Dada Festival. He moved to Paris the following year and began to meet artists and writers who would eventually form the Surrealist group. This group believed in producing art, which emerged from the subconscious mind, whether that be through the representation of dreams or of thoughts discovered by a variety of psychoanalytic methods. Miró became renowned for his automatic paintings and drawings, which display a childlike form and purity of unconscious thought free from the control of reason.

 

 

Other works gifted to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales from Eric and Jean Cass through the Contemporary Art Society are:

 

Joan Miró, L’Enfance D’Ubu, 1975, lithograph on paper

Joan Miró, Oda a Joan Miró, 1973, XXV/XXV; lithograph

Joan Miró, Oda a Joan Miró, 1973, XXV/XXV; lithograph

Joan Miró, Composition, 1957, lithograph

Patrick Caulfield, Commemorative Vase, 1979, Bone china

Brigitte Deuge, Ceramic Plate, 1992, Porcelain

Peter Hedegaard, Red, Marron and Blue Abstract, 1969, Edition 2 of 35; lithograph

John Hoyland, Platter No. 11, 1985, Earthenware

Bjorn Wiinblad, Susanne I Badet, 1988, multiple porcelain

Date: 26 April 2013
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