THE COLLECTOR: Jack Ginsberg has collected art for more than 35 years, assembling an extraordinary collection of more than 700 artworks, books and ephemera by esteemed South African artist Walter Battiss
Feature Image by: ALON SKUY

When Jack Ginsberg bought his first Walter Battiss painting for R120, he had no idea that it would one day form part of a special multimillion-rand exhibition at the Wits Art Museum.

Hailed as the first of its kind, the Walter Battiss: “I invented myself” – The Jack Ginsberg Collection, displays more than 700 artworks and other items Ginsberg has collected inthe past 35 years which the philanthropist has given to the museum.

Battiss, who died in the 1980 s of a heart attack, was regarded as the foremost abstract painter .

Ginsberg said: “I loved his work but I also loved the man.

“I suppose the alternative [to giving it to the museum] is to sell it but it took me 35 years to collect and I believe it’s worth more together, making it much more important as a collection.”

Ginsberg has kept 20 favourite pieces of his collection which he will bequeath to the museum.

The exhibition has been arranged chronologically by curator Warren Siebrits to take visitors on a journey through various stages of Battiss’ life.

Siebrits said it was an honour and a challenge to display the works of one of South Africa’s foremost painters.

Visitors will see from Battiss’ early landscape pieces to his silk-screens and his more colourful and dynamic work in which he challenged the status quo by using sexual imagery.

Siebrits said that Battiss’ erotica collection was aimed at challenging apartheid censorship during the 1970s.

Ginsberg said the “Orgy Series” was Battiss’ most expensive work and could cost around R40000 a piece.

The exhibition is on at the museum from July 6 to October 9.


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