Now in their 90s, art patrons Wilfred and Jeannette Cass have opened their most ambitious exhibition ever. 'A Beautiful Disorder', on show at the Cass Sculpture Foundation in Sussex features the monumental works of 18 leading Chinese artists.
They are an impressive sight; a giant grey bust of Chairman Mao by Song Ta stands among the oaks and fir trees; a maze of chalk pathways, designed by Xu Zhen to replicate protest routes, criss-cross bucolic meadows, while manicured lawns have been turned into an archaeological dig by Tu Wei-Cheng in which ‘excavation’ sites contain ‘cultural relics’ such as USBs, speakers and mobile phones.
It’s not the first time the Casses have funded emerging artists. ‘We knew sculptors had a really rough time so we wanted to do something to help them,’ says Jeanette. ‘But it was Henry Moore who really started the madness,’ adds Wilfred. ‘He said art is best seen outdoors.’ Since 1992, the couple have invited more than 200 artists to their 26-acre site and everyone from Tony Cragg to Philip King, Rachel Whiteread to Anthony Caro have benefitted from their patronage.
New directors took the helm in 2013, and since then, the foundation’s focus has widened. Cass executive director Clare Hindle explains, ‘this exhibition is a landmark moment as it’s the first time we are commissioning works by international artists.’ All the works are an exciting addition to this sleepy corner of Sussex, and indicate the scale of the foundation’s future ambitions.