b. 1945, Ireland

Sean Scully Artworks

Sean Scully's seminal paintings are characterised by compositions of rectangular or square sections painted in various colours—often deep, rich and stormy or autumn-toned hues. Thickly brushed layers of oil paint produce illusions of luminescence or movement, with a dynamic surface texture often compared to skin.

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Painting in the 1980s

Reflecting his upbringing in working-class neighbourhoods and his adult life in cities, Scully's works from the 1980s were inspired by conflict, discord, haphazard urban planning and human competition for survival—weighty themes reflected in the paintings' sombre palettes and cramped, brick-like compositions. While in such early works Scully used tape to delineate the clean, structured sections on his canvases, he later abandoned that hard-edge aesthetic and began painting more loosely, allowing the shapes to breathe and show evidence of their making. In Battered Earth (1988), for example, patches of cream-coloured rectangles belie their earthy underlying layers, as do the blood-coloured sections with the umber paint beneath.

Wall of Light

Showing a further loosening up of technique, Scully's major 'Wall of Light' series works (1998–ongoing) are first drawn out with charcoal stuck to the end of a long stick before being filled in with paint. The series begun when the artist was travelling in Mexico and was struck by the play of light on Mayan stone walls. Indeed, the combination of vertical and horizontal bars in Scully's paintings are often compared to architectural elements; the sections are said to resemble Stonehenge-like structures.

While he mostly works with oil on canvas, Scully also uses watercolour, pastels and aquatints, as well as painting directly on aluminium—a support that enhances the thickness of the oil paint and its illusion of emitting light.

Sculpture

Sean Scully's more recent sculptures borrow the same compositions as his paintings; Air (2018) is a large cube made of multi-coloured recinto, marble and cantera, assembled in blocks that create asymmetrical grid patterns when viewed from each angle.

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The 50 by Sean Scully contemporary artwork print
Sean Scully The 50, 2021 50 archival pigment prints on etching paper
193.7 x 311.2 cm
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Writing Drawing 7 by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Writing Drawing 7, 1975 Ink on paper
27.9 x 43.2 cm
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Diptych by Sean Scully contemporary artwork works on paper
Sean Scully Diptych, 1978 Gouache on paper
77.5 x 57.2 cm
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Brennus by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Brennus, 1979 Oil on canvas
213.4 x 213.4 cm
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Fort Drawing by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Sean Scully Fort Drawing, 1981 Ink on paper
76.2 x 56.5 cm
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Squares #13 by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Squares #13, 1974 Acrylic on paper
68.6 x 68.6 cm
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Blue/ Blue Black by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Blue/ Blue Black, 1978 Gouache on paper,
77.5 x 57.2 cm
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Fleece by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Sean Scully Fleece, 2021 Ink and watercolour on paper
53.6 x 37.5 cm
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Cage by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Cage, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Untitled 2 by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Untitled 2, 1975 Acrylic and tape on canvas
159 x 79.1 cm
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Small Blue Painting #3 by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Small Blue Painting #3, 1977 Oil on canvas
38.4 x 38.4 cm
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Untitled by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Untitled, 1979 Acrylic and masking tape on paper
77 x 57 cm
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Square by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Square, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Green Bar by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Green Bar, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Red Lines by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Red Lines, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Untitled by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Untitled, 1979 Acrylic and masking tape on paper
77.5 x 57.2 cm
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Black Square by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Black Square, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Dark Square by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Dark Square, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Untitled (vertical triptych) by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Sean Scully Untitled (vertical triptych), 1978 Gouache on paper
77.5 x 57.2 cm
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Sean Scully, Red Yellow Blue by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Sean Scully, Red Yellow Blue, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Boisgeloup by Sean Scully contemporary artwork works on paper
Sean Scully Boisgeloup, 2019 Ink, marker and coloured pencil on paper
29.7 x 21 cm
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Lines and a square by Sean Scully contemporary artwork print
Sean Scully Lines and a square, 2021 Archival pigment print on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
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Untitled (Fort Drawing #2 by Sean Scully contemporary artwork works on paper
Sean Scully Untitled (Fort Drawing #2, 1976 Gouache and pencil on paper
76.2 x 56.5 cm
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Jan 7-74 (Grey) by Sean Scully contemporary artwork painting
Sean Scully Jan 7-74 (Grey), 1974 Acrylic and industrial tape on canvas
101.6 x 101.6 cm
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