Impresario of the New

Photograph for TIME by Robert Young

'People come because they'll meet everybody. It becomes like the World Cup of contemporary art.' —John Kaldor

"Jeff, I loved the Puppy." From a few words, John Kaldor's contemporary art dreams can loom large. Such was the case, in 1995, when the Australian art patron invited American Jeff Koons to rebuild his 12-m-high topiary terrier in the forecourt of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. At a time when cutting-edge art was still frowned on in Australia, Puppy—which required audiences to do little more than stop and smile and smell the flowers—was a palatable panacea. Later purchased by the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, Koons' Postmodernist sculpture would become a global mascot for contemporary...

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