Contemporary Art Society to stage leap day fundraiser

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The Contemporary Art Society, a leading light for the promotion of modern art in Britain, is tomorrow auctioning off 44 works by some of the biggest names in the art world, including Paula Rego, Spencer Tunick and Bob & Roberta Smith.

The specially timed leap day (29 February) fundraiser is circus-themed; something both reflected in the art on offer as well as the dress code. Illustrious guests, who last year included Grayson Perry, Bryan Ferry and Gavin Turk (normally a mixture of collectors and artists), will all arrive at the Farmiloe Building in Clerkenwell tomorrow night dressed up as gymnasts, ring leaders, clowns and other circus folk.

The gala is the latest annual event celebrating the Contemporary Art Society’s contribution to the British art scene. For 100 years the CAS has “indentified the art stars of the future” and bought important works for public collections in museums across the country.

“We [at the CAS] spend our entire time looking at art. We scour galleries, colleges and spaces where artist work and pay particular attention,” says Paul Hobson, director of the Contemporary Art Society.

“We look for artists whose work is relevant, whose ideas are temporal and have an interesting and economic something visceral. It’s very hard to say exactly what that something is, but having a critical eye, we look at a lot of art.”

Founded by Roger Fry and six others in 1909, the CAS was responsible for purchasing the first Picasso for Tate in the 1930s. Because of Fry, the CAS had strong links to the Bloomsbury set and introduced Francis Bacon, Peter Blake, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant artworks into the Tate collection. Fry bought the first Gauguin to be gifted to Tate for £40.

A host of contemporary artists have been commissioned by CAS to produce circus works for tomorrow’s auctions. The proceeds will be used by CAS to continue investment into modern art. This philanthropic approach, fundraising from art lovers to gift important works to public institutions, is one means of plugging the gap in arts funding which have resulted from government cuts.

For more information visit www.contemporaryartsociety.org/leap

Anne Hardy is one of the artists whose work is being auctioned. Click here for a video feature about her work. * Inside the artist’s studio: Anne Hardy

Bob & Roberta Smith is another supporter of CAS. Click here for a video interview in his studio. *Inside the artist's studio: Bob & Roberta Smith

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