Irish artist Sean Scully has been dedicated to his painting practice since the 1960s, focusing primarily on paint as a building block for dense architectural constructions. Scully's work is distinctly different from today's crop of painters, whose cool take on pop culture refuse to show the artist's hand-or heart. Scully's scumbled surfaces recall Hans Hoffman's influential abstraction, while evoking the texture and feel of a dusky fall evening on a moor.
Sean Scully, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1945, came from a family working primarily in the mines, and moved to London with his family when he was four. His early work was figurative, but after a "hippie" conversion in Morocco in 1967, stripes became his exclusive subject and object. Scully moved to New York in the mid-1980s, making his paintings at a time when lower Manhattan was dominated by anti material conceptual and Minimal art that avoided such a traditional art form. Yet conceptual painter Robert Ryman was an early Scully advocate, and once a generation of painters that included Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Susan Rothenberg and Eric Fischl, and the Neo-Geo painters like Peter Halley, showed new passion for painting, Scully's work gained traction in the art world. Scully experimented with sculpture in the early 1970s, and again in the early 1990s, he did not fully jump into the practice until the early part of the 21st century.
In his sculpture, Scully continues to explore landscape and abstraction. His monumental works recall farmer's stacked, un-mortared walls, and the serial constructions of Sol LeWitt. Scully's sculptures often refer to his paintings, but the heavy materials and scale evoke a completely different set of physical reactions and associations, given that the works live in the real world. BLACK STACKED FRAMES, 2017, Scully uses metals and paint of the urban world, rather than the stones of the natural world. Scully's stepped layers recall the compression found in geology, and a climbing wall for weekend warriors. Scully's looming, quasi-religious structure creates parallels between the natural and human-made world.
Scully currently lives and works in New York and Munich. He studied at The Central School of Art, London, from 1962-1965; the Croydon College of Art, London, from 1965-1968; and received his BA at Newcastle University, United Kingdom, in 1972. One-person museum shows from the past decade have been held at: The Albertina Museum, Vienna, the National Gallery of Art, London; The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, United Kingdom; the Hirshhom Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington; Museo Uffizi, Florence, Italy, the De Pont Museum, Tilburg, The Netherlands, Hong Kong Art Center; the Edward Hopper House, Nyack, New York; the Staatliche
Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Germany, the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Kunsthaus Lempertz, Brussels; the Cincinnati Art Museum; the Art Museum of the Nanjing University of the Arts, China; Château La Coste, Le Puy-Saint-Réparade, France; the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany, the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Benaki Museum of Art, Athens; the Palace of Carlos V, Monumental Complex of the Alhambra and Generalife, Grenada, Spain; Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland; the Chazen Museum of Art, Madison; the Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany; VISUAL-Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow, Ireland; the Museum Liaunig, Neuhaus, Austria; Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland, among others.
His work has been shown in galleries across the globe, including: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.