Generous donor of Balinese Modernist Art visits Australian Museum.

On Monday 3 December 2012 we had the pleasure of welcoming Leo Haks and his partner Colleen Dallimore who came to visit us at the Australian Museum.

This year Leo Haks, collector and connoisseur of Indonesian art, donated to the Museum over 100 Balinese Modernist paintings. He played an important role in recognising and defining this interesting art movement.

Leo termed it the Pre-War Modernists Paintings (1928–1942) and his collection includes a substantial portion of paintings originally assembled in the 1930s by anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson as well as Swiss artist, and long-time resident in Bali, Theo Meier.

And, significantly, the collection includes paintings from the late 1920s and the early 1930s, a period before outsiders took any notice of this emerging art current.100 paintings represent a very good sample of the Modernist art movement in Bali. They are well documented, making them an important source for exhibitions, community programs and research.

Accompanied by Adrian Vickers and Siobhan Campbell, academics from the University of Sydney and specialists in Balinese art, our visitors examined parts of the Museum’s anthropology collections, including Balinese paintings and carvings, early Maori material, which impressed Colleen immensely, and the Papunya paintings.

Leo Haks and Colleen Dallimore
Leo Haks and Colleen Dallimore viewing Balinese paintings in the Australian Museum's anthropology collections, 3 December 2012 Image: Stan Florek
© Australian Museum

Both Leo and Colleen have a long association with art, its creation, collection, study and publication. Their association includes paintings, photography, textiles and other forms of visual art, ranging from Indonesia to China and from the Pacific through to New Zealand and Aboriginal Australia.

Exploring collections with our guests always brings different dimensions, issues and associations that may not have been previously apparent. So we discussed and marvelled about art, cultures, and human needs for meaning. We contemplated how well the Australian Museum is placed to benefit from and to contribute to the Asian Century – not a theory but a reality already upon us.

I had the clear impression that Leo and Colleen enjoyed their visit and were pleased to see how accessible and well cared for our anthropology collections are.