The Beagle Press was established in 1980 by Lou Klepac to publish books on Australian art. Lou Klepac, who during his period at the Art Gallery of South Australia and later at the Art Gallery of Western Australia as Senior Curator/Deputy Director (1974–80), took a special interest with the design and production of exhibition catalogues which made the AGWA ‘nationally celebrated’ (Alan McCulloch) in the 1970s.
In Sydney Lou Klepac has had a long association with the Art Gallery of New South Wales and has produced some of their memorable catalogues: including the catalogues for the major retrospectives devoted to Donald Friend, Arthur Boyd, Jeffrey Smart, Sidney Nolan as well as other Gallery publications such as Australian Art in the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the catalogue for the exhibition Giorgio Morandi: The dimension of inner space.
The Beagle Press has also produced publications for other institutions including two important volumes for the Powerhouse Museum: Treasures of the Powerhouse Museum and Discovering the Powerhouse; Gold and Civilisation for the opening of the National Museum in Canberra; the James Gleeson Retrospective catalogue James Gleeson: beyond the screen of sight for the National Gallery of Victoria; Artists Tapestries for the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne; and The Genius of Donald Friend for the National Library of Australia.
The Beagle Press has concentrated, however, on publishing books on individual artists, devoting some volumes to artists who have been unduly neglected such as Nora Heysen, Hector Gilliland and David Strachan. Among the long list of major monographs are those devoted to John Coburn, William Robinson, Bruno Leti, Margaret Woodward, Fred Cress, Albert Tucker, Jeffrey Smart, Rick Amor, Horace Trenerry and Robert Juniper. Important recent publications include, Russell Drysdale the drawings, Brett Whiteley drawings, Kevin Connor and Hans Heysen.
One of the major publications was the acclaimed Australian Painters of the Twentieth Century (2000) which featured the work of 19 important Australian artists from Margaret Preston to Brett Whiteley.
The Beagle Press has worked with many distinguished art historians including Sasha Grishin, Barry Pearce, John McDonald, Gavin Fry, Bruce James, Deborah Hart, Peter Pinson and Sue Walker. It has also collaborated with a number of exceptional designers: Neil Sellick, Catherine Martin, Stephen Smedley, John Bull and Mark Thacker.
Lou Klepac is an art historian; he is the author of a number of books including Lloyd Rees drawings, Russell Drysdale, John Coburn, William Robinson, James Gleeson, Nora Heysen, Horace Trenerry and Brett Whiteley drawings.
Among the many exhibitions he has curated are: Sicket Paintings; Contemporary Australian Drawing; Sickert Drawings; Russell Drysdale Drawings; Russell Drysdale Paintings; The Road to Berry – Lloyd Rees and Brett Whiteley drawings; Giorgio Morandi Paintings and Etchings; La Serenissima – the fascination of Venice; Nora Heysen retrospective; James Gleeson – Beyond the Screen of Sight; Donald Friend – a charmed life and Destination Sydney.
In 1980 he was made a Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana; in 1996 he was awarded an OAM and in 2006 the University of Sydney conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa).