Significant Gift to Glasgow goes on Display at GoMA
  • You are here: Home
  • News
  • Significant Gift to Glasgow goes on Display at GoMA
Glasgow life

Significant Gift to Glasgow goes on Display at GoMA


​A substantial collection of works by pioneering artist and feminist Niki de Saint Phalle will go on display at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow from 16 November, 2012. 15 of the works in the exhibition have been donated by Eric and Jean Cass through the Contemporary Art Society and two works were presented to the city by the artist in 1993.

The Eric and Jean Cass donation includes sculptures, a print and wallpaper along with rare archive material which builds on the relationship between the artist and GoMA. Niki de Saint Phalle was commissioned to create the mirrored entrance to the gallery and the tympanum which is installed above the exterior columns at GoMA and depicts elements of the story of St Mungo. The recent additions make the city’s collection of Saint Phalle’s work the largest in the country.

Niki de Saint Phalle was born in 1930 in France and died in 2002. She began producing her first paintings in 1950. This led to assemblages in plaster and her "shooting paintings". These pictures were plaster with containers of paint beneath the surface which would explode when she shot them. More sculptural work followed and in 1965, she created her first "Nana". These large, voluptuous and brightly painted female figures were made originally from chicken wire and wool or fabric and later in polyester. Niki de Saint Phalle also designed stage sets and costumes, created movies, graphic work, furniture and large-scale sculptures, fountains and parks including the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris, Golem in Jerusalem, Queen Califia's Magical Circle in California and Grotto in the Royal Gardens in Hannover Her most ambitious project is the Tarot Garden near Tuscany which took 20 years to complete.

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “This generous donation from Eric and Jean Cass through the Contemporary Art Society is an extraordinary gesture which builds on the links between Niki de Saint Phalle and Glasgow. These works are unique and beautiful and will captivate and thrill visitors to GoMA for generations to come.”

Eric and Jean Cass said: “All we want is for people to enjoy what we’ve enjoyed and keep all the works together. We’ve had great fun collecting, meeting the artist and meeting people associated with the art. We love every piece we’ve bought and have great memories of each day we bought them.”

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, said: “This tremendously generous gift from Eric and Jean Cass is of incalculable cultural and financial value to institutions and audiences across the UK and is an example of selfless philanthropy.  Eric and Jean have built their collection with great passion, care and intelligence, always knowing that the works would in time enter public collections where the pleasure they have had privately would be shared with the widest audience nationally, now and in the future.  Philanthropists who wish to benefit museums outside of London are rare and regional museums struggle to compete with the prestige of London-based institutions who tend to get the pick of the crop. It is typical of this enlightened couple that they would aspire to benefit audiences no matter where they live, recognising that artists and audiences seed their imaginations through experiencing these important local collections.”

Glasgow Museums Info – Glasgow Life operate nine museums on behalf of Glasgow City Council. For more information please go to

Contemporary Art Society
Founded in 1910, the Contemporary Art Society exists to support and develop public collections of contemporary art in the UK. We do so by raising the funds to purchase and commission new works of contemporary art for museums and galleries all across the UK, and by soliciting gifts of works to these collections for public benefit. For 100 years, we have played a unique and largely solitary role in the formation of public collections of contemporary art in this country, donating more than 8,000 works where they are enjoyed by audiences everywhere. We continue to act as a catalyst for the visual arts in the UK, developing audiences, artists, curators, collectors and collections alike.
We are a national membership organisation, bringing together individuals, institutions and organisations, including contemporary art enthusiasts and collectors, curators and artists, and a UK-wide network of public collections in regional museums and art galleries. All proceeds raised through our diverse activities are used to purchase new works of art, both by established artists and the stars of the future, for donation to museums and galleries in this country. Throughout our 100 year history, we have championed countless important emerging artists in the UK in their time, including Picasso and Francis Bacon and, more recently, Damien Hirst, Luke Fowler and Elizabeth Price, to name but a few.
Eric and Jean Cass
Eric and Jean Cass have dedicated over 35 years of their lives to supporting artists. During this time they have built up a spectacular and very personal collection of over 300 sculptures, ceramics, drawings, prints and paintings with work by Karel Appel, Lynn Chadwick, Michael Craig-Martin, Barbara Hepworth, Allen Jones, Henry Moore, John Piper, Joan Miro and many others. Previous to the donation, the entire collection was housed in the interiors and gardens of ‘Bleep’, Eric and Jean Cass’s spectacular modernist home in Surrey named after the high pitched bleeping sound emitted from pocket paging receivers, a product that formed part of Eric’s business, Cass Electronics. Each piece in their collection has been purchased because it gives the owners immense enjoyment as a standalone work of art. Eric and Jean Cass are ardent supporters of philanthropy in the arts. They hope that their collection benefits audiences all over the UK for years to come.
The Eric and Jean Cass Gift
The Eric and Jean Cass Gift is one of the most important philanthropic giftings in the Contemporary Art Society’s 100 year history, which will benefit public collections across the UK for generations to come.
Eric and Jean Cass have gifted over 300 important modern and contemporary artworks from their personal collection to the Contemporary Art Society for allocation to public institutions and to support contemporary art in the UK. The gift totals over £4 million and includes works by artists including Karel Appel, Michael Craig-Martin, Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, Victor Pasmore, Pablo Picasso and Niki de Saint-Phalle.  Amassed over almost 40 years, this is one of the most unique and significant collections of modern and contemporary art in the country.
Glasgow Life Logo