Press Release: Forthcoming Displays at Contemporary Art Society

21 August 2013 By
An interior shot of a room at 'Bleep', Eric and Jean Cass' spectacular modernist home. Photo: Doug Atfield

21 August 2013


*John Stezaker (4 Sept – 4 Oct), Artist Talk 12 Sept

*The Eric & Jean Cass Gift (16 Oct – 22 Nov)

*Laure Prouvost (4 Dec – 17 Jan), Artist Talk 12 Dec

*Simon Fujiwara (29 Jan – 28 Feb)

*PRESS BRIEFING (29 Jan, 9am – 10am)
An exclusive press preview of our Simon Fujiwara display and an opportunity to find out about our displays and initiatives from February 2014. We will be joined by Simon Fujiwara as well as new Contemporary Art Society Director Caroline Douglas (see Notes To Editors for full details of Caroline’s appointment and please note we are now taking interview requests).

For all enquiries, interview requests, or to RSVP for our press briefing or an Artist Talk, contact:
Jenny Prytherch
Communications Manager, Contemporary Art Society
+44 (0)20 7017 8412



JOHN STEZAKER (4 Sept – 4 Oct)

Nude collages by influential British artist John Stezaker are to go on display at the Contemporary Art Society’s space at 59 Central Street from September, along with a number of other works responding to flesh and the body. Stezaker won the prestigious Deutsche Börse photography prize in 2012 and has played a highly significant role in key artistic developments of the last three decades. Using found photographs, film magazines, vintage postcards and illustrations, Stezaker is well-known for his collages involving tears, cuts, insertions and maskings, and he has been instrumental in championing appropriation art and the reemergence of collage.

Two collages by Stezaker, Fall XII and Fall XIII (both 1992), were recently purchased for York Art Gallery by the Contemporary Art Society, the Art Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Taken from Stezaker’s anatomical nudes series, these works will be shown alongside other works from York’s permanent collection that focus on nudity, flesh and the body, including a number of paintings by William Etty (1787 -1849). Etty’s life studies provide an interesting contrast to Stezaker’s collages of male and female bodies and this is the first time these works have ever been shown together. Other works from York’s collection on display include a drawing by Berlinde De Bruyckere and part of Helen Chadwick’s autobiographical work Ego Geometria Sum.

There will be a discussion of John Stezaker’s work at the Contemporary Art Society on 12 September.


THE ERIC & JEAN CASS GIFT (16 Oct – 22 Nov)

Collectors Eric and Jean Cass recently donated over £4 million of modern and contemporary artworks to the Contemporary Art Society for gifting to museums. The gift is one of the most important in our 103 year history. In 2012, we distributed a selection of works from Eric and Jean Cass’s rich and eclectic collection to seven museums and public galleries in the UK to enrich and expand their current collections.

To continue our celebration of this outstanding philanthropic act, this autumn we will reflect on the impact of the gift on Wolverhampton Art Gallery, one of the recipient museums. Thanks to the vision of curator David Rogers in the 1960s and 1970s, the gallery now boasts one of the best collections of Pop Art in the UK, with works by Eduardo Paolozzi, Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Roy Lichtenstein and David Hockney.

The display at 59 Central Street will reflect how the gift has enabled Wolverhampton to develop both its Pop collection with major works by British artist Allen Jones, as well as a new focus on the impact of European artists on the UK Pop movement, with works by Victor Vasarely and Karel Appel.


LAURE PROUVOST (4 Dec – 17 Jan)

The work of 2013 Turner Prize nominee Laure Prouvost moves between film, performance, sound and site-specific installation. It often plays with the relationship between director, performer, audience and the architecture of viewing.

Last year, the Contemporary Art Society purchased Prouvost’s Monolog for the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester. This video, which won the 56th Oberhausen Short Film Principal Prize in 2010, is a witty and direct challenge to the notion of the artist’s identity and institutional regulations imposed upon the viewing of art and the behaviour of a supposedly captive audience. At a time when the Whitworth is embarking upon a redevelopment of its gallery spaces, Prouvost’s work has been a timely addition to the gallery’s rich and varied collection of historic and contemporary art. Monolog will be shown at 59 Central Street alongside a selection of recent work by the artist.

There will be a discussion of Laure Prouvost’s work at the Contemporary Art Society on 12 December.


SIMON FUJIWARA (29 Jan – 28 Feb)

Playing out dense dramas surrounding personal relationships, family relations, politics, architecture and history, Simon Fujiwara’s work explores biographies and ‘real-life’ narratives through a combination of performance, video, installation and short stories. Fujiwara has participated in several recent biennials including the Venice Biennale (2009), the São Paulo Biennial (2010) and the 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012), as well as the Singapore Biennial, Manchester International Festival, and Performa in New York (all 2011). His work has been presented at galleries around the world including The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto and MOT in Tokyo.

This display at 59 Central Street will showcase the Contemporary Art Society Collection Committee’s first ever purchase: Rebekkah by Simon Fujiwara (2012), consisting of five terra-cotta dyed, life sized, cast plaster female figures and video, initially commissioned for the Shanghai Biennale (2012).  Three of the figures will be whole, and two shattered into pieces.

Established in 2012, our Collections Committee selects and purchases works by early and mid-career artists to gift to regional museums across the UK. Meeting four times a year, the Collections Committee shapes our philanthropic work, and visits artist studios in London and abroad before discussing and selecting works to purchase. Rebekkah will be gifted to one of the Contemporary Art Society’s member museums around the UK.



Notes to Editors:


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.

Key facts about Contemporary Art Society:

  • 1910 Contemporary Art Society makes its first purchase, Augustus John’s Smiling Woman, which was later presented to Tate in 1917
  • 1917 Contemporary Art Society gifts Paul Gauguin’s Tahitians to Tate
  • 1933 Contemporary Art Society gifts Pablo Picasso’s Flowers to Tate – the first Picasso ever to be acquired by Tate
  • 1946 The first work by Francis Bacon is purchased, Figure Study II
  • 1967 Henry Moore’s Knife Edge – Two Piece presented to the City of Westminster and permanently sited in Abingdon Street Gardens, London W1
  • 1988 Mark Wallinger’s Lost Horizon is gifted to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent
  • 1992 Damien Hirst’s Forms Without Life is gifted to Tate – the first Hirst ever to be donated to Tate
  • This year (2013-4) the Contemporary Art Society expects to place art worth in excess of £4million into public collections across the UK with the support of our patrons and other stakeholders.