Monday, March 18, 2019

Vale Edmund Capon

It comes to us all eventually but it's always a bit of shock when someone you admire passes away. Edmund Capon the former director of the NSW Art Gallery has died at age 78 from melanoma.
Pictured above (right) with philanthropist James Fairfax (who passed away in 2017) Whispers thinks the photo sums up Capon's 30 years plus stewardship of the Gallery.
Fairfax was donating over $30M worth of old masters to the gallery at this small get-together and it examples how Edmund was able to seduce and secure funding and donations from the rich and connected.

But more than that, with his unique personality Edmund Capon "opened up" the Gallery to millions of visitors who may not have ever visited the place. In 2010, the year before Capon retired nearly 1.4 million visitors attended the Gallery. 
Right: Barry Humphreys at the James Fairfax art donation function.
Born in London, Capon was an expert in Chinese art and archaeology and managed that division at the world famous Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) before coming to Sydney in 1977 to promote a V&A exhibition. He never left after being offered the position as director of the Art Gallery of NSW. The V&A's loss was our gain. With a unique enthusiasm and an ability to mix with every possible social and business class and treat all with equal respect, Capon became the face of the Gallery and the numbers of visitors rose very year as Capon was able to attract major art shows from all over the world.
Edmund Capon 1941-2019 is survived by his wife Joanna , two children and three step-children.
Edmund Capon (left) with then NSW Premier Barry OFarrell and art patron Stephen Lowy in 2011

Joanna Capon (left) with Edmund and former "first lady" Lucy Turnbull.
Edmund Capon was able to transverse all strata of society and out the Art Gallery of NSW on the map, attracting the general public in their millions along with movie stars like Hugo Weaving pictured here at an Archibald Portraiture prize opening night.