Sean Scully

Born 1945, Dublin, Ireland; lives in New York City

Born in Ireland in 1945, Sean Scully was raised and educated in London. In 1975, he moved to New York where he was immediately influenced by the geometric and color field painters working in that city: Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, and, especially, Mark Rothko. Abandoning the figurative work he was pursuing at the time, Scully began working with the deliberately reduced set of motifs that have occupied him for the last twenty years. 

Scully gathers his motifs from everyday experience; he looks at doors, windows, road maps, and uses photography “as a means of defining the parameters of his own visual world.” He does not depict the world but finds in the world visual experiences that correspond to his artistic mission. Specifically, Scully seeks to portray the richness of life through the relationships between the colors of his characteristically dark and understated palette. The reduction of formal elements to stripes and squares allows the color relationships to be of utmost importance. In the indefinite transition zones between colors, Scully exposes the “mystery of ambivalence and uncertainty” that permeates the human experience.

Sean Scully is one of the most important contemporary artists working today, and his work can be seen in museums around the world including the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.