Sean Scully Works to Fill Picasso's 18th-Century Château de Boisgeloup

  • PARIS, France
  • /
  • September 10, 2019

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Sean Scully, Madonna, 2019 - Oil and oil pastel on aluminum - 85 x 75 inches © Sean Scully.
Almine Rech

Exhibition features Scully’s unexpected new paintings, as well as monumental sculptures, situated throughout the enchanting setting of 18th century Château de Boisgeloup—from Picasso’s former studio itself to the 13th century chapel, and the approximately 20,000-acre grounds.

Almine Rech has announced a newexhibition, Celtique, opening on October 26 in Picasso’s historic former studio at the Château de Boisgeloup, featuring a selection of paintings and sculptural works by leading artist Sean Scully (b. 1945, Dublin). 

Located near the village of Gisors in Normandy, France, approximately 45 miles Northwest of Paris, the Château de Boisgeloup is an 18th century building purchased by Pablo Picasso in 1930. In the years that followed, Picasso used his studio at Boisgeloup to create exceptional sculptures and iconic paintings, expanding his practice across mediums, genres and styles during a very productive creative period. For Almine Rech’s upcoming exhibition, Scully will utilize the entirety of this enchanting setting—presenting nearly a dozen new and recent works within Picasso’s historic studio space itself, as well as the adjacent dovecote, sprawling lawn, and ivy-covered, 13th century chapel.

Almine Rech-Picasso, founder of Almine Rech, explained, “We’re excited to share this intimate and private place with the public, and to draw upon it’s incredible visual and historical context to create a dynamic platform for Scully’s new and recent work. Bringing Scully’s work together with the rich history of Picasso’s studio allows us to engage with this special place in a new and exciting way, and to create a dialogue with the past and the future through an unexpected and compelling exhibition.”

Almine Rech's Claire Tabouret installation at Château de Boisgeloup in 2018.
Almine Rech

Titled Celtique, the show will comprise paintings from Scully’s ‘Landline’ and ‘Madonna’ series, stacked sculptures, and a glass sculpture. Several recent paintings by Scully, which demonstrate the artist’s signature motif of rich, painterly abstraction and expressive rendering of color and texture through the use of repetitive forms will be presented in the historic studio space itself. In addition, the presentation features two figurative paintings—an unexpected departure from his signature style of abstraction—both titled Madonna (2019). These deeply personal works are rooted in Scully’s early artistic explorations and harken back to the artist’s childhood. In the neighboring dovecote, Scully’s bronze Coin Stack (2018) represents an abstracted expression of the artist himself and his life—the title referring to a time during his childhood when Scully’s father would bring home tips and count them in stacks on the kitchen table. For the pièce de résistance, 30 Too (2018), Scully’s monumental 10-foot-tall sculpture composed of vibrantly painted stacks of aluminum, presides over the Château’s expansive lawn.

The exhibition Celtique will be on view at Boisgeoloup from October 26 through November 17, 2019 and will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 6pm.

Sean Scully was born in Dublin in 1945, and grew up in the south of London, where his family moved in 1949. He began painting in the late 1960s, and moved to New York City in 1975; he became an American citizen in 1983. Scully has shown extensively, both nationally and internationally, including, most recently, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, England, the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut, the National Gallery of Art in London and San Giorgio Maggiore for the Venice Biennale, Upcoming solo exhibitions include in 2020 a major retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Sean Scully is known for rich, painterly abstractions in which stripes or blocks of layered color are a prevailing motif. The delineated geometry of his work provides structure for an expressive, physical rendering of color, light, and texture. Scully’s simplification of his compositions and use of repetitive forms—squares, rectangles, bands—echoes architectural motifs (doors, windows, walls) and in this way appeals to a universal understanding and temporal navigation of the picture plane. However, the intimacy of Scully’s process, in which he layers and manipulates paint with varying brushstrokes and sensibilities, results in a highly sensual and tactile materiality. His colors and their interactions, often subtly harmonized, elicit profound emotional associations. Scully does not shy away from Romantic ideals and the potential for personal revelation. He strives to combine, as he has said, “intimacy with monumentality.”
Pablo Picasso purchased the Château de Boisgeloup in 1930. After falling in love with the beauty and peace of the property and its surroundings, Picasso decided to install his studio on the grounds. The present château was built during the 18th century, following a fire that demolished the original building. The estate is situated in a park, and the property encompasses the château, a 13th century church, and an old dovecote at the rear of the service quarters, which Picasso converted into his studio. During his time at Boisgeloup, Picasso received frequent visits from illustrious friends of the artistic milieu of the period.

Since 1930, the estate has remained in the hands of the Picasso family. In 1935, when Picasso formally separated from his wife Olga Khokhlova, she kept Boisgeloup. The property was then inherited by Picasso and Olga’s only son Paul, who lived between Boisgeloup and Paris until his passing in 1975. Boisgeloup is now owned by Picasso’s grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso.

Together with his wife Almine, Bernard has breathed new life into the historic studio—which was used as a stockroom in the decades following Paul’s death—developing the space into a platform for exceptional presentations of contemporary art. The space was activated for the first time in 2012 with an invitation-only show of works by Cy Twombly, Franz West, David Smith, and Picasso himself. Since that point, Boisgeloup has been open to the public on specific weekends for special exhibitions, including a solo-exhibition of works by Claire Tabouret in 2018, and a presentation of works by Joe Bradley in 2017, which was accompanied by a group show of works by Richard Prince, De Wain Valentine, and Louise Nevelson from Almine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso's private collection



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