Box 10: Geometric Abstraction with Emotion

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Abstraction, Scully said is a form of art that “was meant to embody deep emotion”


Sean Scully was born in Dublin in 1945 and is renowned as one of the greatest exponents of abstract painting. He studied and worked in England until 1972 when he was awarded a fellowship to Harvard University. In 1975 he settled in New York and now divides his time between New York, Barcelona and Munich, where he is Professor at Akademie der Bilden Kunste, Munich. Scully continues to use a restricted visual language with unique and astonishing virtuosity. His work has evolved from the thin vertical and horizontally striped grid paintings of the 1970s through to wide bands of colour realised in broad brush strokes as is evident in Figure in Grey.   The shallow picture planes of his early works have given way to a greater openness and light and air seeps through the softened edges of his blocks of colour nudging up against each other. The dynamic between solidity, space and luminosity has altered. The structure remains resolute and stable but the appearance of the underlying colours hints at mystery leaving the dialogue open-ended. This splendid recent work is part of a prestigious gift of paintings which  Sean Scully has presented to the city to mark the opening of the gallery's new wing.


These Sean Scully paintings are part of a generous gift the artist gave to the Hugh Lane Gallery in 2006. Created in his signature geometric shapes the artists suffuses his panels with sensuous colours – nuanced blocks of colour embodying drama and emotion.


Scully’s famous Walls of Light paintings are inspired by elements of European culture from classical architecture to the vernacular design of the stone walls of the West of Ireland.



Sean Scully, Wall of Light Orange Yellow (2000), © Collection Hugh Lane Gallery


Sean Scully, Yellow Yellow (2005), © Collection Hugh Lane Gallery


Sean Scully, Figure in Grey (2004), © Collection Hugh Lane Gallery