Sean Scully

Sean Scully - 9.1.96
Pastel on paper
22 x 30 inches
Signed and lower right
Provenance: Mary Boone Gallery
Private collection Bedford, NY


Sean Scully (b. 1945)
9.1.96, 1996
Pastel on paper
22 1/2 x 30 inches
Signed and dated lower right: "Sean Scully 9.1.96"
The artist
Mary Boone Gallery, New York (label on verso) Private Collection, New York
Abstract painter Sean Scully was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1945, and in 1949, he and his family moved to England. Scully studied painting at Croydon College of Art from 1965 to 1967, and then studied and taught at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne from 1967 to 1971. He received a graduate fellowship at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, after which he settled in New York City and obtained his American citizenship in 1983. Scully was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1989 and 1993.
Throughout the 1980s, Scully increasingly embraced a rigorously formal geometric language, which ultimately culminated in his characteristic checkerboard-like compositions. In this untitled pastel from 1996, we can clearly see Scullyʼs mature style. He has abandoned the use of masking tape to achieve a “hard-edge” style of painting between his panels of color, instead choosing to maintain the blurred edges as he juxtaposes and layers his colors. The composition itself is split into three vertical sections. The panel on the far left is a black and white checkerboard, the middle consists of red and white stripes, and the right is a panel of black and white stripes, a combination of the previous two panels. Scully has remained committed to exploring this stripped panel motif throughout his career. Pastel as a medium allowed the artist the experiment with his colors within this strict geometric foundation. We can see how he built up his colors layer by layer in a very textural manner, slightly reminiscent of his Abstract Expressionist predecessors. Scullyʼs process is immediately available to the viewer as his or her eye delves beneath one layer of pastel under another, resulting in patches that seemingly float on the surface of the paper. This pastel work, with its delicate application of color, is unique among what are typically more aggressive, “harder” geometric compositions.
Scullyʼs work is included in the permanent collections of many prominent museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the National Gallery, Washington D.C.; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; the National Gallery of Australia; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. He currently lives and works in New York City, Barcelona, and Munich, and is a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.

Post War Inventory