Sherman Galleries Goes Non-profit


In a visionary move, Gene Sherman, founder and owner of Sherman Galleries, has decided to forge a new path in philanthropy. The Sydney-based Sherman Galleries, at the forefront of contemporary art in Australia, will cease trading as a commercial gallery redefining its activities as the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. The new venture will be dedicated to commissioning, exhibiting and documenting contemporary art from Australia and Asia Pacific region.

Established in 1986 by Gene Sherman, Sherman Galleries has promoted some of Australia’s preeminent contemporary artists and launched younger talents like Vanila Neto and Shaun Gladwell, selected for this year’s Venice Biennale. The decision to close the gallery’s commercial activities follows its 20th anniversary and the production of a 300-page publication documenting its history and defining its new agenda. The gallery will use the rest of this year to place its artists with other representatives. Its final exhibition will be a solo show for Shaun Gladwell.

With an estimated worth of AUD 190 million (USD 150 million)—much of it from husband Brian Sherman’s sale of his money-management firm Equitilink in 2000—and a long time patron of the arts, the Sherman family views the decision as a logical next step. Gene Sherman commented to ArtAsiaPacific, “The family has decided that the best way to continue making a significant contribution to the cultural life of Australia is through a non-profit non-commercial foundation that remains clearly focused on public outcomes.” The Sherman family already funds Voiceless, established by Brian Sherman and daughter Ondine to support animal rights.

The Contemporary Art Foundation will focus on four annual exhibitions accompanied by substantial publications and forums. The Sherman Visual Art Residency, established by he gallery in 2004, will continue under the auspices of the Foundation and the gallery’s Paddington site will be reconfigured to house the Foundation and operate as a research portal for its “Art in Asia” library. The announcement has been met with widespread positive support and heralds an initiative that may lead to a shift in the Australian psyche towards individual giving for the arts.