Audio: William Scott, Blue Form on White
William Scott, R.A. (1913-1989)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
William Scott, R.A. (1913-1989)

Blue Form on White

Details
William Scott, R.A. (1913-1989)
Blue Form on White
oil on canvas
61 x 79 in. (155.2 x 200.5 cm.)
Painted in 1964.
Provenance
with Waddington Galleries, London.
Purchased by the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation from the Hanover Gallery, London, April 1965.
Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, by whom gifted to the Basildon Arts Trust, 1984.
Literature
G. Conradt (ed.), Berlin Confrontation: Artists in Berlin, Berlin, Ford Foundation, 1965, p. 36.
A. Bowness, 'British Art Today', in W. Grohmann (ed.), Art of Our Time: Painting and Sculpture throughout the World, London, 1966, illustrated.
J. Knowles, letter to William Scott, 13 April 1966.
A. Bowness, letter to William Scott, 8 August 1967.
A. Bowness (intro.), exhibition catalogue, Recent British Painting: Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Collection, London, Tate Gallery, 1967, pp. 18, 55-56, no. 18, illustrated.
A. Bowness (intro.), exhibition catalogue, Recent British Painting, Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia, 1970, no. 18, catalogue not traced.
Basildon Arts Trust, letter to William Scott Foundation, undated.
S. Roe (ed.), The Public Catalogue Foundation; Oil Painting in Public Ownership in Essex, London, 2006, p. 5, no. 26, illustrated.
S. Whitfield, William Scott: Catalogue Raisonné of Oil Paintings, Volume 3: 1960-1968, London, 2013, p. 190, no. 572, illustrated.
Exhibited
Berlin, Haus am Waldsee, Stadien und Impulse, September - October 1964, no. 58, possibly 'Forms Remembered'.
Edinburgh, Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, 1966-67, on loan.
London, Tate Gallery, Recent British Painting: Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Collection, November - December 1967, no. 18.
Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Festival of Arts, Recent British Painting, March 1970, no. 17: this exhibition travelled to Auckland, Art Gallery, August - September 1971.
The Basildon Arts Trust, 1979-1984, on loan.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Anne Haasjes
Anne Haasjes

Lot Essay

In 1961 Scott completed his largest single work, a 46 foot mural commissioned by Eugene Rosenberg for Londonderry’s Altnagelvin Hospital. Re-visiting a non-figurative style formerly explored in the mid-1950s, his work, no longer bound to the horizon line was divided into vertical sections with flat, boldly coloured shapes placed in rhythmic succession against a creamy white background. As a result of working on such a vast scale, his paintings began to take on something of the character of the mural, they not only tended to be larger than those he had made before but seemed also to tease the viewer by appearing visually truncated, suggestive of the fact that the picture might form part of a much larger composition. This certainly seems to be the case in Blue Form on White whose outer lines, far from hemming in seem to encourage an expanded view of the canvas as part of a potential sequence, with sections to the left and to the right allowing us to imagine the possibilities of the painting’s origin and conclusion. The eponymous and electrifyingly exploratory blue protuberance emerging from the left of the canvas is the focal point of the painting. Highly seductive, both formally and aesthetically, Scott’s blue bulge elicits in the viewer a visceral thrill, one feels instinctively that such forms, ‘made to move and animated like living matter’ are imbued with a kind of sensual autonomy (William Scott quoted in exhibition catalogue, The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors, New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1955). A tension then is set up as the blue form encroaches on the white, appearing on the verge of colonising the space occupied by two alternately slender and swollen white forms. Abstract and yet anthropomorphic, such curvilinear forms (also repeated in Figure Expanded, 1964) although ambiguous, seem incredibly allusive, reminiscent perhaps of the bulge of a fleshy thigh or of a woman’s breast. In 1963 Scott accepted the offer of a twelve month residency in Berlin with the Ford Foundation and it was whilst in Berlin that Blue Form on White was completed. Sarah Whitfield asserts that ‘Scott must have been familiar with the great collection of Egyptian sculpture to be found in Berlin. The sudden appearance of a female form in works painted in Berlin, suggests that the experience of seeing superb examples of ancient Egyptian sculpture, such as the Standing Striding Figure of Nefertiti, made itself felt in these large compositions’ (S. Whitfield (ed.), op.cit., p 190).
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