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The Samstag Story


Gordon SAMSTAG, 1906-1990
Law and order in old Scarsdale (detail) 1940
oil on canvas mural, Scarsdale post office, New York State, 15 x 4 feet

The Anne and Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarships were established in 1992 through a remarkable bequest by American artist Gordon Samstag, who taught from 1961 to 1970 at the South Australian School of Art, now a part of the University of South Australia.

Mr Samstag's will provided substantial funds for awarding, annually, a number of scholarships to enable Australian visual artists to "study and develop their artistic capacities, skills and talents outside of Australia".

His unique, in-perpetuity bequest, ranks as the greatest gift made expressly for the development and education of Australian visual artists.

An American citizen, Gordon Samstag was born in New York City on 21 June 1906, and studied at the New York Art Students League before continuing his studies at the Academie Colarossi in Paris. A 1981 exhibition at the Wichita Art Museum, Kansas, The Neglected Generation of American Realist Painters 1930-1948, confirmed his status as a significant social-realist painter of the 'American Scene'. His work is represented in the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio and the Sheldon Swope Gallery, Terre Haute, Indiana. There are also public murals painted by Samstag (commissioned by the Roosevelt Administration's Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture) at post offices in Reidsville, North Carolina (1938) and Scarsdale, New York State (1940).

In 1973 the Samstags moved to Cairns, Queensland, before settling finally in Naples on the west coast of Florida, in 1976, where Gordon died three years after Anne, in March 1990, at the age of 83.

The philanthropy of these two distinguished benefactors to Australian culture has been acknowledged by the University of South Australia in the naming of its celebrated new Art Museum gallery, on North Terrace, which opened in 2007 as the Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum of Art - University of South Australia.

Research continues into the lives of Gordon and Anne Samstag.

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