The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney is co-convening a two day symposium with the National Gallery of Australia, to celebrate the birth one hundred years ago of American Abstract Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Morris Louis.

The symposium, titled Action Painting Now, will be held on 24–25 August 2012 at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. It is co-funded by the Terra Foundation, a leading promoter of exhibitions and research into historical American art.

The symposium will present new scholarship on Australia’s only significant collection of 1940s and 1950s American art. This event marks the first time the Terra Foundation, based in Chicago, has supported an Australian institution.

The symposium will feature leading American scholars Branden Joseph, Ellen Landau, Michael Leja, and Richard Shiff, who will join Australian experts Rex Butler, Christine Dixon, Chris McAuliffe, and Anthony White to explore the development, reach, and influence of Abstract Expressionism.

Jackson Pollock is known in Australia for his masterpiece Blue Poles, which was controversially purchased by the Australian government in 1973 for $1.3 million.

Roger Benjamin, the US Studies Centre’s professor of art history, says Blue Poles is regarded as one of Pollock’s most important paintings and the acquisition is now acknowledged as a masterstroke.

He said Morris Louis’s work was a continuation of Pollock’s achievements. “Louis really was the star of the next generation of American painters. His work was even more expansive than Pollock’s.”