The contemporary collection contains major works by over 400 artists, including Juan Davila, Fiona Hall, Bill Henson, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, William Kentridge, Janet Laurence, Patricia Piccinini and Cy Twombly. The Kaldor Collection has brought in-depth representation of artists such as Francis Alÿs, Christo, Thomas Demand, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg and Ugo Rondinone.
In 1979 the Art Gallery of NSW was the first Australian art museum to appoint a curator specifically for contemporary art. Initially representing Australian artists almost exclusively, the collection focus broadened to include international art in 1984 following a bequest from Mervyn Horton. Today, the contemporary collection is truly international, encompassing Asian and Western as well as Australian art in all media. With the recent gift of the John Kaldor Family Collection, the Gallery now holds Australia’s most comprehensive representation of contemporary art from the 1960s to the present day. Internationally, the focus is on the influence of conceptual art, nouveau realisme, minimalism and arte povera. In Australia, the emphasis is on themes that have been central to art practice in this country, with additional strengths in the areas of abstract painting, expressionism, screen culture and pop art.