Artist Sean Scully to Discuss Career, Inspiration in Masters Series Lecture

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Sean ScullyRenowned abstract artist Sean Scully will appear in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Masters Series on May 1.

Scully’s remarkable paintings of bars, blocks and stripes have earned him an international reputation. His work resides in the permanent collections of major museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery, London and the National Gallery of Australia. His Ookbar, a large-scale, hand-painted canvas from 1993-94, was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art in 2012.

The artist will discuss his work and inspiration during a free talk at 6 p.m. on May 1 in the Museum’s Peristyle Theater.

“Sean Scully is one of the most esteemed painters working in the abstract tradition, so welcoming him to Toledo is a significant moment for the Museum,” said Director Brian Kennedy, who authored an examination of Scully’s work called “Sean Scully: The Art of the Stripe” in 2008. “He has a capacity for talking about abstract art that opens people’s eyes.”

Born in Ireland in 1945, Scully moved to London as a child and lived there until he immigrated to the United States in 1975 on a painting fellowship. He became an artist at a time “when it was impossible to make abstraction, and even more impossible in a sense to make paintings,” Scully said in a 2008 lecture at the Smithsonian.

Despite the establishment’s resistance to abstract painting, Scully was determined. “I decided that I was not going to look for new shapes, new forms…instead of changing the form, I wanted to change, over time, what the form meant.”

His perseverance paid off, as his work was increasingly shown in gallery exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States, and he enjoyed professorships at both Princeton University and the Parsons School of Design.

He was awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and was twice-nominated for a Turner Prize by the Tate Gallery, London.

Today his art is exhibited internationally and he maintains studios in Barcelona, New York City and outside Munich.

“A representational painter wants to show the things in the picture,” Scully has said. “With an abstract painter, in a sense what you’re trying to do is make everything happen at once … it should be, could be, a moment of revelation and it’s a kind of thinking that takes you out of context. That’s its big advantage, I think.”

Since 2011, the Masters Series has brought world-renowned artists, scholars, musicians and others to share their knowledge and talents at the Museum’s Peristyle. The series is sponsored in part by the TMA Ambassadors, a group of active Museum supporters and fundraisers.

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