The Contemporary Art Society has announced that Art collectors Eric and Jean Cass have donated over 300 important modern and contemporary artworks from their personal collection to the Society for allocation to public institutions and to support contemporary art in the UK. The collection, carefully selected over a 40 year period and previously housed in the home and gardens of ‘Bleep’, Eric and Jean Cass’s modernist Surrey home, is one of the most unique and significant collections of modern and contemporary art in the country. The works are going to benefit seven UK museums: the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; the Hepworth Wakefield; Leeds Art Gallery; the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton; and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
In 2012, the Contemporary Art Society invited seven UK-based museums to research Eric and Jean Cass’s donation and to pitch to receive clusters of works that complement or enliven their current collections. The museums proposed works by artists including Pablo Picasso,Karel Appel, Michael Craig-Martin, Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, Victor Pasmore, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Niki de Saint-Phalle, to a total of over £4 million. Any works not appropriate for gifting to these primary museums will be sold to benefit the Contemporary Art Society’s Acquisitions scheme or will be gifted to other public collections in the UK.
Paul Hobson, director of the CAS, said the gift was of incalculable cultural value and was 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,” he said. “Philanthropists who wish to benefit museums outside of London are rare and regional museums struggle to compete with the prestige of London-based institutions who tend to get the pick of the crop. It is typical of this enlightened couple that they would aspire to benefit audiences no matter where they live.”