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Sean Scully (b. 1945)
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Sean Scully (b. 1945)

Landline Blue

Details
Sean Scully (b. 1945)
Landline Blue
oil on linen
61¼ x 49 in. (155.6 x 124.4 cm)
Painted in 2013.
Provenance
with Timothy Taylor Gallery London, where purchased by the present owner.
Exhibited
France, Mougins, Museum d'Art Classique de Mougins, Sean Scully, Doric, July - September 2013.
Special Notice

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Lot Essay

'Paint strokes do a number of things, but they do not simply describe the form in my work: they affirm the human spirit, the involvement of the human spirit' (Sean Scully, Resistance and Persistence: Selected Writings, London 2006, p. 25).

With bold, horizontal stripes, Landline Blue is one of Sean Scully’s renowned large-scale oil paintings that comes from his recently completed Landline series. Characterised by broad lines of horizontal colour, the works in this series emanate a sense of absorbing stillness and calm. The muted bands of thickly textured paint softly vibrate, their edges blurred and gradually running into one another. Though abstract, the idea for this series came from the landscape, “I was always looking at the horizon line – at the way the blocks of the world hug…and brush up against each other, their weight, their air, their colour, and the soft uncertain space between them.” (Sean Scully, Kinds of Red, Timothy Taylor Gallery exhibition press release, London, 2014).

The stripe has been central to Scully’s work over the course of his career. Evolving from thin, grid like, repeated stripes to large bands of broad textured colour, Scully has transformed the motif of the stripe, which he names “a signifier for modernism” (Sean Scully quoted in Mark Glazebrook, ‘Sean Scully: Summarizing Living and Painting’, in Sean Scully: Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Manchester, 1997, p. 9), into an expressive art form, employing colour contrasts and juxtapositions that create diverse and emotive compositions that have a powerful physical presence.

The architectonic structure of Scully’s work can be seen as being derived from twentieth-century artist Piet Mondrian. Italian artist Giorgio Morandi also had an impact on Scully’s aesthetic; the quiet yet potent repetition and stillness of his still-lives deeply resonated with Scully. However, from the beginning of his career Scully was interested in the work of the Abstract Expressionists, particularly Mark Rothko. His first encounter of Rothko’s work was in 1967 and this had a decisive impact on Scully – he never returned to representational painting, instead pursuing a unique form of geometric abstraction. The floating bands of colour seen in Landline Blue are immediately reminiscent of Rothko’s luminous abstractions of dissolving colours. Precision is abandoned and is replaced by a looser, more painterly style with layers of subtly blended colour. Like Rothko, Scully’s subtle colour combinations are emotionally charged, powerfully resonating with the viewer and illustrating the innate spirituality that is present throughout Scully’s oeuvre. “The power of a painting”, he said in 2003, “has to come from the inside out, not the outside in. It’s not just an image; it’s an image with a body, and that body has to contain its spirit.” (Sean Scully, ibid., p. 122).

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