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Australian art

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Black reveal



Sydney Ball


29 Oct 1933 - 05 Mar 2017


During the late 1960s and 1970s, Sydney Ball worked on various series of paintings, that although stylistically diverse, consistently reflected the artist's primary concern for exploring the dimensions of colour abstraction. His 'Modular' series, produced between 1968-69 revealed the artist's interest in the sculptural dimensions of colour painting, furthering his investigations of hard edge colour and form initiated in his 'Cantos' series by creating abstractions as wall mounted geometrical structures.

Ball claims that it was through an interest in Anthony Caro's use of sculptural spaces that he began, in the 'Modular' series, to consider 'breaking open the picture, to get out into the negative area, and to use that negative area as part of the positive painting shapes' (Denise Mimmocchi, Simon Ives interview with the artist April 2010). Attuned to the sculptural Ball's 'Modular' works provide a structural sense of colour that by combining panels of acrylic and enamel boards visually oscillate between the material effects of mattenous flatness and reflective gloss.

'Black reveal' highlights the surface 'double take' that Ball intended for this series. Painted at a time when Ball began incorporating enamel paints in his works, 'Black reveal' suggests how an artist's materials featured as part of the visual language of modern painting as a crucial component in contemporary colour expression.




Media category


Materials used

synthetic polymer paint on canvas and enamel on gilder plywood


157.0 x 289.3 x 4.4 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.l. verso on plywood, black fibre-tipped pen ".../ SYDNEY BALL/ 1969".


Gift of the artist 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sydney Ball

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Janine Burke, Sydney Ball survey 1965-1975, 'Modulars', Newcastle, 1975, n.pag.. 13; dated 1968

Anne Loxley, Sydney Ball: the colour paintings 1963-2007, 'The colour paintings 1963-2007', pg. 25-72, Penrith, 2008, 40-41 (colour illus.), 73.

National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], First Leasing Art Prize 1970, Melbourne, 1970, n.pag..

Sarah Cottier Gallery (Compilator), Sydney Ball: modular paintings 1968-69, Sydney, 2003, n.pag.. 2; dated 1969