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Edmund Capon is Chair of the Australian Institute of Architects Foundation, in the belief that architecture has the capacity for direct and positive impact on the future of our cities and spaces and should be nurtured through philanthropy, as are other arts sectors. The Foundation is a not-for-profit national body committed to fostering and promoting the art and creativity of architecture
He also chairs the Gallery 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority Landmark Public Art Jury, is a Member of the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney and an adjunct professor at the Australia-China Relations Institute at UTS.
He took up his appointment as Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in November 1978 following his arrival from London where, for the previous five years, he held the position of Assistant Keeper, Far Eastern Section, Victoria and Albert Museum. He retired on 23 December 2011.
Mr Capon attained a Master of Philosophy Degree in Chinese Art and Archaeology (including language) from London University’s Department of Oriental and African Studies with his thesis entitled: The Inter-dependence of Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in Bronze and Stone from AD386 to 581, and is a recognised world expert in his particular field.
In October 2003 Mr Capon opened the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ newly rebuilt Asian galleries. This major building project has created two levels of greatly enhanced and expanded exhibition space for the Gallery’s Asian collection, as well as space for touring exhibitions of Asian art. In May 2011 Mr Capon opened 3300 square metres of new and refurbished modern and contemporary galleries, which includes dedicated display space for the Kaldor Family collection.
Mr Capon is a Visiting Professor in the School of Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, UNSW; has written extensively on the arts of China; written and presented a 3-part ABCTV-China Central Television co-produced documentary entitled Meishu: Travels in Chinese Art which has been distributed worldwide; developed the AGNSW as a centre for Asian art display and education; created the Gallery’s highly successful Foundation, a Capital fund, to acquire works for the Collection; has curated exhibitions encompassing Asian, European and Australian art; has written extensively on Chinese art & archaeology and on the work of artists such as Jeffrey Smart, Caravaggio and Giacometti; his three-part documentary entitled The Art of Australia was co-produced by the BBC and ABCTV Australia and premiered in October 2013.
Mr Capon’s most recent non-Gallery publication is a collection of essays entitled I Blame Duchamp: My Life’s Adventures in Art which was launched in November 2009 by Penguin Australia.
He is an avid Chelsea supporter and was Chairman of Sydney Football Club 2006-2007.
He was awarded the Doctor of Letters honoris causa from the University of NSW in 2000, from Macquarie University in 2010 and the University of Sydney in 2013.
He has been honoured by the governments of Britain, France, Italy and Australia for his contribution to art and culture.