Philanthropist John Kaldor began Kaldor Public Art Projects back in 1969 with a bang, by enlisting European artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude to wrap two-and-a-half kilometres of Little Bay’s coastline in fabric. In the 50 years since, he’s worked with internationally renowned artists – including Jeff Koons and Marina Abramović – to bring challenging artworks to Sydney.

From a huge puppy sculpture made from shrubs outside the MCA in the mid-’90s to an installation involving 300 tonnes of dirt dumped into Carriageworks this year, Kaldor has aimed to challenge how Sydneysiders think about art. All works (except for the first) have been free to the public, and many have taken place outside the traditional boundaries of museums and galleries. Kaldor Public Art Projects was the first organisation of its type anywhere in the world.

Now, Kaldor’s pioneering work is being recognised with a sprawling retrospective at the Art Gallery of NSW. Running from September 7 until February 16, the exhibition will examine how the project has influenced how Australians experience contemporary art, and will include artworks, archival materials and reconstructions of past projects, such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Coast, Jeff Koons’s Puppy, Marina Abramović’s In Residence and Jonathan Jones’s barrangal dyara (skin and bones).

The Making Art Public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects retrospective runs from September 7 until February 16, 2020.

If you want to learn more about John Kaldor, read our profile here.