Sydney Ball

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sydney Ball
Born(1933-10-29)29 October 1933
Adelaide, South Australia
Died5 March 2017(2017-03-05) (aged 83)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
MovementAbstract expressionism

Sydney Ball (29 October 1933 – 5 March 2017) was an Australian abstract painter. He has been called ‘one of Australia’s leading colour abstract painters.[1] He has also been credited with bringing large scale abstract expressionist paintings, or Color Field paintings, to Australia.[2]


Sydney Ball was born in 1933 in Adelaide, South Australia.[3] In 1962, Ball moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League of New York, where he studied under Theodoros Stamos.[3] During this period Ball met and was influenced by many of "The Irascible 18", including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Ball’s first solo show was in 1965 at the Westerly Gallery.[4]

Ball returned to Australia in 1965 helping to bring abstract techniques to the attention of Australian artists.[1] He lived and worked in Glenorie, New South Wales in his later years.[4][5] Abstract expressionism was taken up enthusiastically by many Sydney painters in the 1960s. His contemporaries such as John Olsen, Erica McGilghrist and Leonard Hessing and the older Sam Atyeo were equally abstract but influenced by Dutch post-war avant garde and earlier Russian abstract painting, whereas Ball was one of the first Australian artists of his generation, similar to Yvonne Audette and John Vickery to take an interest in American art over European art.[citation needed]

In his later years, Ball was well regarded in Australian art circles and one of his large scale works was a major acquisition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Painting series and exhibitions[edit]

Band series[edit]

The Band series were Ball's first abstract paintings.[3] Consisting of vertical colour bands, the works were exhibited at the Westerly Gallery in New York in 1964.[3]

Modular series[edit]

Ball worked on the Modular series between 1968 and 1969.[6] The works are plywood constructions with high gloss enamel finishes.[3] Ball used car spraying booths to get this effect.[3] Black Reveal, a work from the series, is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, examining the negative space of colour.[6]

Stain series[edit]

Ball moved on from purely hard-edged abstraction after a return to New York between 1969 and 1971.[1] The stain paintings, like Apache sound,[7] 1972 in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, emphasized motion in the application of the paint.[1] The series consists of approximately 100 works created by the artist during the 1970s.[2] The Stain series impacted the possibilities for abstract art in Australia.[8]


Ball's work has been the subject of over 50 solo exhibitions and over 50 group exhibitions in Australia and the United States of America.[9] In 1968 Ball's work was included in the influential exhibition The Field[10] at the National Gallery of Victoria, demonstrating the arrival of hard edged abstraction in Australian art.[11] His work has also been featured in the many exhibitions that have revisited the impacts of that exhibition on Australian art, such as Birth of the cool at the Samstag Museum, Adelaide.[12]


Ball's work is in the collections of most major public galleries in Australia, including ten works in the National Gallery of Australia.[13] Internationally, Ball has work in the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea.[2]

In 2014, Ball donated 30 of his works, valued at one million dollars, to the University of South Australia.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d Artist informationSydney BallWorks in the collection 33 (1933-10-29). "Great falls, (1975-1976) by Sydney Ball :: The Collection". Art Gallery NSW. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  2. ^ a b c Entertainment (2013-10-23). "Revisiting Sydney Ball's rabble rousing days". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Nocookies". The Australian. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  4. ^ a b Neha Kale. "Colourbursts by Sydney Ball". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  5. ^ database and e-research tool for art and design researchers. "Sydney Ball: biography at Design and Art Australia Online". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  6. ^ a b Artist informationSydney BallWorks in the collection 33 (1933-10-29). "Black reveal, (1968-1969) by Sydney Ball :: The Collection". Art Gallery NSW. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  7. ^ Apache sound
  8. ^ See Wendy Walker, Sydney Ball: the stain paintings 1971-80, 'Expanding the possibilities', pg. 13-27, Zetland, 2013 for more information.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-03. Retrieved 2015-08-18.
  10. ^ The Field
  11. ^ 17 Jul 2015 (2015-07-23). "Birth of the Cool opens in Adelaide - Drill Hall Gallery - ANU". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-08-18.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2017-06-12.
  14. ^ "Abstract art collection given to Uni SA by Sydney Ball - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2017-03-06.

External links[edit]