Sean Scully

Biography of Sean Scully

The missing link between American abstraction and European modernism, Sean Scully's commitment to his own particular vision makes him stand alone in the pantheon of great contemporary painters. Throughout his oeuvre the recurring motifs of colored stripes and squares manage to both ground and distort his paintings and are considered by him to be signifiers of modernism. Grid-like, they are suggestive of giant playing boards for unfamiliar games. Scully is a great exponent of modern abstraction and his distinctive ability to fuse it with a metaphorical spirituality singles him out from the multitude of painters working today. His combining of geometric forms in various media characterizes his practice during the 1970s while by the 80s his work had taken on a more expressive edge, as brushstrokes mixed with textured surfaces. Usually Scully has very little idea how his paintings are going to turn out, as he says himself, "I am not in control of it". 


Born in 1945, and growing up in London, Sean Scully took an apprenticeship at a commercial printing shop before joining a graphic design studio. This experience has stayed with him, and he takes great care to achieve his beautifully crafted editions and multiples. Shortlisted twice for the prestigious Turner Prize in Britain, Scully has never had to look far for critical attention. His work is held in over 180 public collections worldwide including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum all in New York. In 2013 Scully was elected a Royal Academician and in 2015 was honored with a large exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland. The artist emigrated to New York permanently in 1975 and became an American citizen in 1983. A prolific traveler, Scully divides his time between New York, Munich, and Barcelona.

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