Sean Scully, Irish (1945 - )

Sean Scully was born in Dublin in 1945. He grew up in London and works in New York and Barcelona. He has exhibited widely in Europe and the United States: including exhibitions at the Kunstammlung Nordeim Westfalen in Dusseldoerf, Germany, (2001); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (2000); the Milwaukee Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, and Albright-Knox Gallery (1998-99); Galeria Arte Moderna, Villa delle Rose in Bologna, and Galerie National de Jeu de Paumme in Paris (1996). His work may be found in museum collections worldwide, such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C.; Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain; Tate Gallery in London, England; The Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland; and Nagoya City Art Museum, Japan.

Scully's work derived from the traditions of European early modernism (Mondrian and Matisse), in its ideals for harmony and spirituality, and American late modernism (Pollock and Rothko), in its urge for large, open-ended compositions, expressing personal inner states. How to reconcile European order with American vigor—or more specifically, how to combine Mondrian's plastic clarity with Matisse's sensuousness, Pollock's drips, and Rothko's fluidity—has remained the basic question of Scully's art practice to which he gave slightly different answers throughout the years. In the mid- and late 1970s, his paintings reflected the influence of minimalism in their cool, reductivist look and geometric precision. During the 1980s, they gradually changed and became freer and more painterly. Bearing the marks of thick brushstrokes and broad gestures, these paintings manifested dense, yet luminous, surfaces. The most recent ones are looser, more open and fluid. In all of them, stripes retained their constant presence as both a pictorial device and as a means of re-ordering the perceptual world, as well as inner moods. Painted directly and spontaneously in numerous layers of paint, they achieve a tactility of surface similar to that of flesh and skin. It is this quality that endows them with sensual intensity and best characterizes them.

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