Leo Haks Collection: Balinese Modernists
He generously donated over 100 paintings from his collection to the Australian Museum in 2012.
Leo Haks is a photographer, collector and connoisseur of Indonesian art. In 2007 the National Gallery of Australia acquired his collection of Indonesian photographs taken from the 1860s to the 1940s, describing it as one of the most significant acquisitions undertaken by the Gallery. One of his other passions, dating back to the 1970s, was collecting and studying the Pre-War Modernists Paintings from Bali (1928–1942).
Through several decades of perseverance, initially with his business partner Guus Maris, Leo Haks built an important collection of several hundred Pre-War Modernist Paintings. This collection included a significant portion of works on paper initially collected by anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in the second half of the 1930s, as well as Theo Meier’s collection from the same period. In addition Leo Haks obtained some earlier paintings and drawings predating artwork assembled by Mead, Beatson and Meier. In the 1990s these paintings were displayed in a series of exhibitions in the Netherlands and Indonesia.
Approaching his retirement from full time professional work Leo Haks attempted to place his important collection in a public institution, a museum or a gallery. This, coinciding with the effect of the global financial crisis of the late 2000s proved extremely difficult. Consequently Haks sold a large part of his collection at an auction in Singapore in 2011. He generously donated over 100 remaining paintings to the Australian Museum in 2012 where, together with the Anthony Forge collection of classical paintings, it forms the core of the Museum’s Balinese art.