Million dollar gift from Australia’s pioneer of abstract art

Pale Stream_1976_Sydney BallThe University of South Australia is delighted to announce a major gift of Sydney Ball paintings to the University from the artist himself.

Erica Green, the Director of the Samstag Museum of Art, which manages the University Art Collection said the substantial group of works, which spans the artist’s extensive career, is an important contribution to the Collection and the University’s cultural capital.

Sydney Ball is considered one of Australia’s most successful and established artists, and regarded as one of the true trailblazers of abstract painting in Australia.

During a prestigious career spanning more than 50 years, Ball created a vast body of work largely concerned with colour, form, and compositional structure, remaining true to abstraction throughout his career.

This prestigious gift to the University, made through the Cultural Gifts Program, encompasses over 30 important works. The donation comprises key bodies of work from throughout Ball’s career including works from the ‘modular series’ of the late 1960s, the important ‘stain series’ of the 1970s right through to the ‘structures’ series of recent times.

Sydney Ball was born in Adelaide, studied here and was a lecturer at the South Australian School of Art. He forged a formidable career and reputation as a painter of significance nationally and internationally through studying, working and exhibiting in New York in the late 1950s at the height of the abstract painting movement.

Ball has produced work and exhibited consistently over several decades with his works held in major art museums nationally and overseas. In 2009 the Samstag Museum hosted the survey exhibition Sydney Ball: The colour paintings and earlier this year Ball was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of South Australia for services to abstract painting.

“To have a collection of so many remarkable works by such an esteemed artist is an amazing opportunity, said Ms Green. “

“That Syd has chosen our University as the recipient of such a gift is significant. We feel extremely lucky to have benefitted from Sydney Ball’s generosity and foresight.”

“The gift greatly enhances the University of South Australia Art Collection holdings and presents exciting opportunities for prominent display, and ongoing research and study.”

“We will celebrate the gift and mark Ball’s 80th birthday this year with a special exhibition of the ‘Sydney Ball Gift’ at Mawson Lakes campus library to be launched in December. Key works from the Sydney Ball Gift will form the core of an exhibition of Australian abstract art in development for 2015 at the Samstag Museum of Art.”

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Image: Sydney Ball, Pale Stream, 1976, acrylic and enamel on canvas, 240 x 420 cm University of South Australia Art Collection – Sydney Ball Gift, courtesy of Sullivan+Strumpf