Master of Color and Composition, Abstract Artist Sean Scully Spotlighted in Major Exhibitions

Sean Scully’s acclaimed Landline series makes its U.S.  debut at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden this fall.  Sean Scully, Landline Bend Triptych, 2017.  Oil on aluminum.  Three panels, each 85 × 75 in.  (215.9 × 190.5 cm).  Private collection.
Sean Scully’s acclaimed Landline series makes its U.S. debut at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden this fall. Sean Scully, Landline Bend Triptych, 2017. Oil on aluminum. Three panels, each 85 × 75 in. (215.9 × 190.5 cm). Private collection.
(© Sean Scully, Photographed by Robert Bean.)
  • Sean Scully, 2018, Photo: Liliane Tomasko

    Sean Scully, 2018, Photo: Liliane Tomasko

  • Scully's first exhibition of sculpture and painting in the UK, opens at Yorkshire Sculpture Park later this month.

    Scully's first exhibition of sculpture and painting in the UK, opens at Yorkshire Sculpture Park later this month.

‘I have spent my life making the melancholic into something irresistible. Because the world has changed around me and become more regretful, my paintings have become more true.’- Sean Scully

Irish-born artist Sean Scully (b. 1945) is in the limelight this year with 15 international exhibitions, including several major museum shows and solo exhibitions.

This month, Sean Scully: Inside Outside” opens at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Scully’s first museum exhibition of sculpture and painting in the U.K., Sept. 29–Jan 6, 2019. Also in the U.K., the Blain|Southern gallery will present a Sean Scully solo exhibition, titled Uninsideout, opening in London on October 3rd for Frieze Week. The Landline paintings and multi-panel works in Blain|Southern's exhibition, all oil on aluminium, showcase the artist's 'inexplicable fascination' with this metal medium. 

Next year, "Sea Star: Sean Scully at the National Gallery," opens at the National Gallery London, with new work by the artist inspired by the National Gallery Collection and Joseph Mallord William Turner’s The Evening Star (on view April 13 – August 11, 2019). 

The museum premiere of Scully's accalimed Landline series, a big hit at the 56th Venice Biennale, is on view Sept. 13–Jan. 6, 2019, at DC's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Following its Hirshhorn debut, “Landline” will travel to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, in spring 2019.

Sean Scully: Landline” traces the series’ expression through a variety of media, with nearly 40 oil paintings, pastels, watercolors and photographs (1999–2017), and layered aluminum Stack sculptures, iconic forms that reflect in three dimensions the horizontal movement of his paintings. Vibrating with urgency and beauty, together these works form a continuous current of color that will pulsate through the Hirshhorn’s circular second-floor gallery.

“Landline” debuts more than 20 years after the Hirshhorn opened Scully’s first mid-career retrospective in 1995, a pivotal exhibition that illuminated Scully’s own artistic transformation and cemented his status at the center of contemporary abstract painting.

“Sean Scully continues to be one of the most influential painters working today,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. 

Known for combining the geometry of European concrete art with the ethereality of American abstraction, Scully’s thick, gestural brushstrokes over grids of stripes and squares evoke the energy and beauty of the natural world. His “Landline” works are largely inspired by his years in Ireland, particularly his time looking out to the sea. In these moments, he saw the layers of the world pressed into the space in front of him, forming the stacks that would come to characterize this series. The expressive and unconstrained bands of color reach beyond abstraction and into the sublime, where the contours of landscapes unfold to reveal the physical and emotional dimensions of experience, trauma and memory.

According to Scully, “I was always looking at the horizon line—at the way the end of the sea touches the beginning of the sky, the way the sky presses down on the sea and the way that line, that relationship, is painted.”

Ongoing, Catalonians and Barcelona tourists alike can trek to the Monastery of Montserrat and on to the Church of Santa Cecília (another 5 minute drive) for a very personal and meditative Scully experience, including the artist's paintings, stained glass windows and frescoes.

Scully lives and works in New York and Germany. He recently became one of the only Western artists to have had a career-length retrospective exhibition in China (his 2014 exhibition of over 100 paintings traveled from Shanghai to Beijing), and he was recently the subject of solo exhibitions in São Paulo, Brazil, at the Pinacoteca do Estado; in Neuhaus, Austria, in the inaugural show at the new Museum Liaunig; in Venice, Italy, during the Biennale; in Dublin, where the National Gallery of Ireland exhibited five major paintings from the collection of 40 works held by the Tate in London, as well as his recent photographs; and in Cork, Ireland, at the Crawford Art Gallery. 

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