Bibliography & Excerpts


Benko, Nancy: Art and Artists of South Australia; Lidums Publications; Adelaide, 1969.
Bonython, Kym: Modern Australian Painting 1968-1970; Rigby; Adelaide 1970.
Bonython, Kym: Modern Australian Painting 1970-1975; Rigby; Adelaide 1976.
Bonython, Kym: Modern Australian Painting 1975-1980; Rigby; Adelaide 1980.
Burn, Ian; Lendon, Nigel; Merewether, Charles; Stephen, Ann: The Necessity of Australian Art;
University of Sydney Printing Service; Sydney, 1988.
Chanin, Eileen: Contemporary Australian Painting; Craftsman House; Sydney, 1990.
Colpitt(ed.), Frances: Abstract Art in the Late Twentieth Century; Cambridge University Press; Cambridge , 2002.
de Groen, Geoffery: Some Other Dream, The Artist, the Artworld and the Expatriate; Hale & Iremonger; Sydney, 1984.
Flynn, Barbara and McDonald, Ewen: Emerge and Review, A Look into the UBS Australian Art Collection; UBS; Sydney, 2007.
Fried, Michael: Art and Objecthood; University of Chicago Press; Chicago, 1998.
Germaine, Max: Artists and Galleries of Australia, vol. 1; University of Chicago Press; Chicago, 1998.
Gleeson, James: Australian Painting - Modern Painters 1933-1970; Lansdowne Press; Melbourne, 1971.
Gooding, Mel(ed.): Painters as Critic: Patrick Heron - Selected Writings ; Tate Gallery Publishing; London, 1998.
Heathcote, Christopher: A Quiet Revolution ; The Text Publishing Company; Melbourne, 1995.
Heathcote, Christopher; McCaughey, Patrick; Thomas, Sarah: Encounters with Australian Modern Art;
MacMillan Publishing Company; Australia, 2008.
Horton, Mervyn(ed.): Present Day Art in Australia; Ure Smith; Sydney, 1969.
Horton, Mervyn(ed.): Australian Painters of the 70's; Ure Smith; Sydney, 1975.
Luck, Ross: A Guide to Modern Australian Painting; Sun Books; Melbourne, 1969.
McCulloch, Alan: Encyclopaedia of Australian and New Zealand Art; Lansdowne Press; London, 1968.
McGregor, Craig: In the Making; Thomas Nelson; Melbourne, 1969.
Serle, Geoffery: From the Desert the Prophets Come: The Creative Spirits of Australia ; Heinemann; Melbourne, 1973.
Smith, Bernard: Australian Painting 1788-1970, 2nd edn; Oxford University Press; Melbourne, 1971.
Thomas, Daniel: Outlines of Australian Art: The Joseph Brown Collection; MacMillan; Melbourne, 1973.
Thomas, Laurie: 200 Years of Australian Painting; Bay Books; Sydney, 1971.
Thomas, Laurie: The Most Noble Art of Them All: The Selected Writings of Laurie Thomas; Queensland University Press; Queensland, 1976.
Wilkin, Karen: Color as Field; Yale University Press; New Haven and London, 2007.

Catalogues and Journal Essays

Australian Perspecta, Exhibition Catalogue; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Sydney, 1983.
Bond, Tony: Twelve Australian Painters, Exhibition Catalogue; Art Gallery of Western Australia; Perth, 1983.
Bonython, Kym: Engine, Exhibition Catalogue; Farmers Blaxland Gallery; Sydney, 1967.
Borghino, Jose: 'Sydney Ball'; Art in Australia, vol. 45 no. 2; Summer 2007.
Borlase, Nancy: 'A Time of Uncertainty, The Visual Arts in Sydney'; Australian Art Review, 1982.
Borlase, Nancy: Change of direction; The Bulletin 31 March, 1973.
Burke, Janine: Sydney Ball Survey 1965-1975, Exhibition Catalogue; Newcastle City Art Gallery, Newcastle, 1975.
Coventry Christopher: 'Speculum' Vermeer's Mirror Catalogue 10/1994, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne.
Crawford, Ashley: 'Sydney Ball: Coming Full Circle'; Australian Art Collector, issue 36, April-June, 2006.
Crayford, Michael: 'Woodcut 1905-1989', Exhibition Catalogue; Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Emu Plains, 1989.
Field to Figuration: Australian Art 1960-1986; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1986.
Findlay, Ian: 'Sydney Ball at Robert Lindsay Gallery'; Asian Art News. vol. 5 no.1 January-February, 1995.
Gibson, Eric: 'Australian in Manhattan: "Australian Visions" at the Guggenheim'; Studio International, vol. 197, no. 1007, pp.43-47, 1984.
Greenberg, Clement: 'After Abstract Expressionism'; Art International, 25 October, 1962.
Holloway, Memory: The Australians, Exhibition Catalogue ; CDS Gallery, New York, 1984.
Judd, Donald: 'New York Exhibitions: In the Galleries'; Arts Magazine, May-June, p.42, 1964.
Kuspit, Donald: 'Australians at CDS Gallery'; Arts in America, March, p.152, 1985.
'Letter from Australia'; Art International, vol.xiii, no. 7. September, p.60, 1969.
Lindsay, Robert, The Seventies: Paintings and Tapestries from the Collection of the National Australia Bank, National Australia Bank, Melbourne, 1983 (foreword by Sir Joseph Burke).
Loxley, Anne: The Colour Paintings Catalogue/Monograph:Exploring Colour and Interview, Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest. Emu Plains, NSW 2008
Loxley, Anne: Sydney Ball, The Stain Paintings 1973-79, Exhibition Catalogue; Sullivan and Strumpf Fine Art, Sydney, 2006.
Luck, Ross: The Australian Painters 1964-66: The Mertz Collection; Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, 1967.
Lynn, Elwyn : Sydney Ball, Exhibition Catalogue; South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne, 1968.
Lynn, Elwyn : 'Leadership Challenged by the Best Show for Years'; The Bulletin, p.56, 1969.
Lynn, Victoria : 10th British International Print Biennale; Bradford Art Galleries and Museum, Bradford, 1988.
Lynn, Victoria : Sydney Ball, A Jubilant Light, Survey of Prints 1964-1988; Wollongong Art Gallery, Wollongong, 1989.
McCaughey, Patrick: Meanjin Quarterly; 'Meanjin Papers 'Enjoy Your Diversity': The 60's Revisited; September, 2012.
McCaughey, Patrick: 'Sydney Ball and the Sixties'; Art and Australia, vol. 7, no. 4, Autumn, pp.331-337, 1970.
McCaughey, Patrick: 'Sydney Ball'; Art International, vol, viii, no.8, October, 1974. pp. 50-52,
McCaughey, Patrick: Ten Australians, Exhibition Catalogue; Visual Arts Board, Australia Council, Sydney, 1974.
McCaughey, Patrick: 'Eva and Marc Besen Collection'; Catalog Essay, 1977.
McCaughey, Patrick: 'Surviving the Sixties'; Art Scribe, London, 1980.
Murphy, Bernice: 'Painting'; Australian Art Review, Sydney, 1982.
Murray Cree, Laura: Sydney Ball, The Colour Paintings 1963 - 2007; Art & Australia, Winter Edition pp672, 2009.
Murray Cree, Laura: Sydney Ball; Art World , Issue 5 Oct/Nov pp78-87, 2008.
Newman, Thomas: 'New Names this Month'; Art News, New York, May, 1964.
Neylon, J: A Sharper Drum; The Adelaide Review, Jan 2010 p.23
Palmer, Maudie: The Field Now, Exhibition Catalogue; Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne, 1983.
Smith, Terry: 'Color-Form Painting in Sydney 1965-70'; Other Voices, vol. 1 no. 1, June/July, p.6, 1970.
M Sook Song: 'The Art World of Sydney Ball'; The Quarterly Art Magazine, Sun Misool no. 46, pp. 18-28, 1990.
Stringer, John: 'Fieldwork: Contemporary Australian Art in NGV 1968-2002', Exhibition Catalogue; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2002.
Stringer, John and Finemore, Brian: The Field, Exhibition Catalogue; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1986.
Surface for Reflection, Exhibition Catalogue; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1987.
Sydney Ball: Exhibition Catalogue; Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 1986.
Sydney Ball: Exhibition Catalogue; Sun Gallery, Seoul, Korea, 1995.
Sydney Ball: images from Along the Way(A Tribute to Alexandra David-Neel and Her Journeys to Lhasa); Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, 1996.
Sydney Ball: Recent Paintings, Exhibition Catalogue; Sun Gallery, Seoul, Korea, 1990.
Sydney Ball: Vermeer's Mirror, Exhibition Catalogue; Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, 1994.
Temelovski, Mary: 'The Art of Place'; Inside Out, March-April pp.94-101, 2008.
The Sixth International Biennial Exhibition of Prints in Tokyo, Exhibition Catalogue:The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1968.
The Wrong Place: Five Sydney Painters, Exhibition Catalogue; University of Tasmania, Tasmania, 1983.
Theodoros Stamos 1922-1997: a Retrospective, Exhibition Catalogue; National and Alexandros Soultzos Museum, Athens 1997.
'Variety on the Painterly in Recent Australian Art'; Melbourne University Magazine, Melbourne, 1974.
Walker, Wendy: The Colour Paintings Catalogue/Monograph:Sydney Ball Prophet of Abstraction, Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest. Emu Plains, NSW 2008
Webb, Vivienne: Monument, no.55 June-July pp.84-88, 2003.
Westerly Gallery Records 1962-66, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Washington DC.
Worth, Margaret: Sydney Ball, Exhibition Catalogue; Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 1984.
Worth, Margaret: Sydney Ball-Descent from the Totem, Art and Australia, vol 24, no. 1 Spring, 1986.
Wright, William: Visions in Disbelief: 4th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, pp. 18-20 1982.

Articles and documentaries

'All the Way from USA';Sunday Telegraph, Sydney, 28 August, 1966.
Brook, Donald; 'Vigour and Gaiety', Sunday Morning Herald, Sydney, 12th June, 1969.
Brook, Donald; 'Visual Arts: Momentous Year', Sunday Morning Herald, Sydney, 2nd January, 1969.
'Call It What You Like-It's Op Art-and It Won £1000', The Australian, 6th October, 1965.
Coventry, Christopher: 'The Da Gama Ball'; The Mercury, Hobart TAS, 1982.
Grishin, Sasha: 'The Apostle of American Abstraction'; The Canberra Times, 16th May, 2000.
James, Bruce: 'Three Generations, One with Youth on Its Side'; Sydney Morning Herald, p. 16, 23rd April, 2003.
Lloyd, Tim: 'Syd's Changing Style'; The Advertiser, Adelaide, p. 14, 10th October, 1998.
Lynn, Elwyn: 'Master of Mazes Still Amazes'; Weekend Australian, 20th-21st April, 1991.
McDonald, John: 'Edge of Reality'; Sydney Morning Herald, p.16. 3rd Janurary, 2009.
McDonald, John: 'Quiet Achievers Have Their Day'; Sydney Morning Herald, 13th-14th May, 2006.
Nunn, L: 'Abstract Reasoning'; Advertiser, South Australian Weekend, January, 2010. p.23
Nunn, L: 'Adelaide Inspired Colour'; Advertiser, 2009.
Reed, John: 'The Grounds Were Invalid', Letters to the Editor; The Australian, 22nd October, 1965.
Snell, Ted: 'Syd Ball: Landscape of the Spirit Held Captive'; The Australian, 20th August, 1985.
Thomas, Daniel: 'Sydney Ball Joins Revival'; Sydney Morning Herald, 22nd March, 1973.
Thomas, Laurie: 'An Artist Fascinated by Colour and Space'; The Australian, 28th September, 1968.

Film and Television

ABC-TV: Sydney Ball; Sunday Arts Program, Producer:Andrew Holland 2009.
ABC-TV: Ten Australians - Sydney Ball; Documentary, Sydney, 1975.
Snell, Ted: 'Sydney Ball Profile'; Film, Waite Institute of Technology WA, 1988.
Sun Gallery: 'Sydney Ball' ; Film, Seoul Korea, 1995.

Website Articles

You Tube: Sydney Ball; The Colour Paintings; 1963 – 2007; University of South Australia; Adelaide, 2009
Saltz, Jerry: 'The Day The Lights Went On', The Art Review; The New York Magazine,27 April, 2008. ;
Ball, Sydney: 'Abstract Architecture'; 2007.
'The Stain Paintings'; 2007.


Short Reviews, Art & Australia, Vol.45 No.2, Page 286.
Sydney Ball, Structures2: Abstract Architecture.
Sullivan + Strumpf Fine Art, Sydney,
31st July—19th August, 2007

Who’s afraid of abstraction? Lot’s of people according to New York critic Karon Wilkin who, in the December 2006 issue of New Criterion, writes ‘Despite its century-old tradition, abstraction still causes consternation [and] audiences continue to be disconcerted by the way that abstract paintings and sculpture look like nothing but themselves’. Not so Sydney Ball, the enfant terrible of 1960’s painting who is no longer an enfant ( this is his 74th year ) and is certainly not regarded as ‘terrible’ by the art establishment. His recent exhibition,’ Structures 2: Abstract Architecture’, at Sydney’s Sullivan+Strumpf Fine Art showed the artist plunging headlong into an unapologetic, hard- edged geometric abstraction-refining even further the economy of line and form displayed in his previous Sydney show ‘Structures’ in 2005. The earlier show consisted of a suite of paintings each with a single irregular shape, in single (usually non- primary) colour, sitting on (usually) black backgrounds. Formally, it was almost expressionist compared with the more recent exhibition. In ‘Structures 2’ the shapes had been reduced in complexity, with straight edges that begin to quote or mirror each other across canvases, resembling a kind of IQ test that asks,’ What is the next shape in this sequence’? If Ball has simplified the central coloured shapes in the evolution from ‘Structures’ to ‘Structures 2’,his use of colour has gone in the opposite direction. The irregular architectonic shapes of the new series all sit within a circle painted in a different (sometimes strikingly contrasting )colour,which in turn sits within a rectangular field in yet another colour.A few paintings even have bars in yet another colour at either side of the canvas. This chromatic profligacy contrasts beautifully with the formal simplicity of the shapes, drawing the viewer into the pictorial space in a kind of trance. Some of them flare and strobe with electricity, others resemble Tibetan tapestries or flags from alien continents. All of them fascinate. In an era of computer generated straight edges and flat, perfectly applied colour, Ball’s pictures show off their humanity (and complexity) by revealing pencil marks,re-drawn edges, surface irregularities and evidence of many layers of different colour being laid down on the canvas. Brush strokes are visible and the paintings look quite different depending on lighting and the angle and distance of viewing. Long gone are the days when such paintings could shock or scandalize. But it’s heartening to find forms and combinations of colour that look (quietly, heroically, uncompromisingly) like nothing but themselves

José Borghino
Summer 2007


Sydney Ball: Coming Full Circle
From his acclaimed colour-filled roots through an exploration of figuration and back to abstraction Sydney Ball is ending where he began

Issue 36 April / June 2006


One thing is constant in the 50 year career of painter Sydney Ball is his capacity for change. Works that initially appear contradictory on stylistic grounds are consistent with his guiding approach of taking up aesthetic and thematic challenges and investigating them before moving on. This structure of working in series has allowed him to continue to respond with rigour, precision and individuality to different circumstances in his life, art and his environment. Through isolating, and zeroing in on an area of interest, Ball is aiming not for a single definitive solution but to explore a variety of resolutions.
That Ball was one of the first Australian artists to begin working in the new hard edge abstraction was crucially tied to the decision to study in the United States rather than Europe. This choice to travel to New York during the 1960s was not merely a fortuitous accident, but the result of extensive research. As a result, he was one of the Australian artists most closely acquainted with the New York School of the mid -1960s. He studied under Theodore Stamos and met with Mark Rothko, Willem De Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, visited the studio of Jackson Pollock and met with Lee Krasner. Defining influences include colourists such as Barnett Newman and the retrospectives of Hans Hofmann, Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis, which he saw while in New York from 1963-1965. The concerns of his work during the 1960s were very much in tune with the tenets espoused by the critic Clement Greenberg at the time towards reflexive art in which the material and the conventions of painting were the subject matter. An awareness and concern with the surface has remained central to his practice since.

June / July / 2003



Quiet Achievers Have Their Day
The creative spirit of Australia is more introspective than loud parades of outback kitsch might suggest.
Sydney Ball: The Stain Paintings 1973-79
Sullivan + Strumpf Fine Art, until May 27, 2006

To end on an upbeat note, Syd Ball's The Stain Paintings 1973-79, at Sullivan + Strumpf Fine Art, will send many viewers hurtling down the time tunnel to the glory days of Greenbergian abstraction, when artists still felt they might add a small patio to the creaking edifice of modernism. One thinks automatically of painters such as Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler but, by the time Ball (born 1933) got on the job, it was not so much a striking out in new directions as creating a convincing series of variations on a pre-existing theme.
Among Australian artists of that period, Ball was especially skilled at charting the various phases of American abstract painting. Patrick McCaughey wrote an essay about him with the portentous title, Sydney Ball and the Sixties, as though we might consider these phenomena to be of roughly equivalent value. Now that he enjoys a somewhat lower profile, it's easy to forget that Ball was considered one of the ';cutting-edge'; painters of the 1960s and '70s. I'm not sure about all the rhetoric of "surface tension" and "translucence and opacity" that describes the motivations for the Stain Paintings, but as large, joyous orchestrations of colour they hold up extremely well. In fact, Although they are the most ruthlessly abstract of all the works discussed this week, they are also the most open and welcoming to the viewer. The lesson, perhaps, is that you don't need a swaggie or a corrugated iron tank to say something about Australia. It can be all contained within a few artful splashes of pigment.

May 13, 2006


Sydney Ball: Modular Paintings, 1968-69
Sarah Cottier Gallery, to April 26 2006.
Ball's brilliantly weighted assemblies of enamel on wood and acrylic on canvas are a ringing assertion of his own capacities as an artist, and one of Australia's advance position, vis-a-vis the abstract practices of the day... They hold the wall supremely well. Each claims a solid block of visual space around it, as the eye fills in the intervals and gaps created by L-shaped or angular panels... They are soaringly ambitious projects... Three decades of ignominious obscurity have not dimmed their muscular yet delicately calibrated monumentality. This is not an instance of the heroic male posturing in which post-war abstraction was all-too-embarrassingly steeped. This is something else. Something braver and better. Truer. It is a case of an artist caught at a moment of immense self-confidence, very nearly of ecstasy, as he summons from within himself a series of geometries so sumptuous and grand as to leave the viewer breathless.

BRUCE JAMES (excerpt )
23 April 2003


The Art Oracle(1968 - 1969).

Showcasing the best of Australian art, with an eye to the artistic merit and market value.

JULY 2006