About Michael Sullivan, by T.K. Sabapathy

A former student in Michael Sullivan’s class of 1958-1960, art historian T.K. Sabapathy will be giving NUS Museum’s 60th Anniversary Lecture, which will be about Michael Sullivan!

“In 1954, Dr. Michael Sullivan was appointed as Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Malaya. Consequently, he became also the founding curator of Singapore’s first art museum and teaching collection – the University of Malaya Art Museum, located then at its campus at Bukit Timah.”

Dr. Sullivan spearheaded the academic studies of art and art histories in Singapore/Malaya back in the 1950s. The Canadian-born British art historian and collector helped to organise the first Singapore Arts Festival in 1959 and it lasted for a week. He was then chairman of the Singapore Arts Council.

“Art should have certain essential qualities before you call it art…if it lacks those qualities then I am not interested… it has to show not only, of course technical mastery of the medium, but feeling and passion.” ~ Michael Sullivan

Here it is! The video of an interview with Dr Sullivan as part of Curating Lab 2012. If you are lucky, you may also catch it played on loop at NUS Museum.


Dr Sullivan had a substantial collection of Chinese modern art in the world, including paintings by Chinese masters Qi Baishi (齐白石) and Zhang Daqiang (张大千), as well as works by younger artists, such as Xu Bing (徐冰). He bequeathed his collection to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which has a gallery dedicated to Sullivan and his wife Khoan (Wu Huan (吴环)), whom he met in Chengdu, China.

The speaker, T.K. Sabapathy, will share both personal recollections and considerations of Sullivan as educator, curator and writer. “Sabapathy has been teaching courses in the history of art since 1966 in institutions in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore, he has researched into and published extensively on modern art and artists in Southeast Asia.”

Lecture date: 30th April 2015, Thursday
Time: 7pm-8.30pm (Registration at 6.30pm)
Venue: University Cultural Centre Theatre, 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore
Book your free seat here: aboutsullivan.peatix.com

This event on Facebook.

This April 2015, the NUS Museum will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the University of Malaya Art Museum, the predecessor institution of the NUS Museum.

E-flyer courtesy of NUS Museum

E-flyer courtesy of NUS Museum