Sean Scully

Dublin, 1945

Sean Scully lives and works between New York, Barcelona and Munich. A painter and photographer, he studied at Croydon College of Art in London, Newcastle University and Harvard University in Massachusetts. In 1975 he moved from London, where he had been living since 1949, to New York. He taught at Chelsea School of Art and Goldmith’s School of Art in London, Princeton University in New Jersey and the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich. In 1983 he was awarded a Guggenheim scholarship. In 2000 he became a fellow of the London Institute.

Influenced by Matisse, Klee, Mondrian and above all Rothko, Scully combines the traditions of European and American painting. His abstract works evolve from a more elementary geometry with the utilization of luminous colouring in the early 1970s towards a geometry in which the colours acquire dark tonalities and drawing becomes significant. Later he dismantles the pictorial surface and, in the early ‘eighties, creates works with less precise geometry which are nevertheless more poetical, using a broader brushstroke and colours that combine greys, ochres and earths. In this way he attains the abstract practice that unites analytical and poetical abstraction.

In parallel to his pictorial work, Scully uses photography, which he began in the year 1978 on a trip to Siena: it is a language that allows him to travel and create at one and the same time, but it is not until the early ‘nineties that he starts exhibiting his photos. Façades, doors and windows, in frontal images, reproduce the rectilinear compositions of his painting, flat surfaces with inserted rectangles, like layers of paint applied one on top of another. He has taken photographs of Morocco, Portugal, Scotland, England, Spain, Germany, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, amongst other places.

Throughout his career he has held numerous exhibitions in important international centres and museums, outstandingly the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, 1985), Art Institute of Chicago (1988), Whitechapel Art Gallery (London, 1989), Palacio Velázquez and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, 1989), Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, 1996), Galerie nationale de Jeu de Paume (Paris, 1996), Fundació “la Caixa” (Palma de Mallorca, 1997), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2000, 2005), Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (Valencia, 2001), Staatliche Museen Kassel (2005), Fundació Joan Miró (Barcelona, 2007), and the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma (2007). Innumerable public and private collections contain his works, notably those of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lousiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebaek, Denmark), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), Fundació “la Caixa” (Barcelona), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma, Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), Tate (London), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Centre Pompidou (Paris), Nagoya City Art Museum, (Japan), and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, among others.

Works in the collection