Sean Scully At Hirshhorn Now
One of the major highlights of the 56th Venice Biennale, the abstract paintings of Sean Scully represent a dramatic and seminal shift in the work of one of today’s most important abstract artists, and the exhibition marks the first chance for audiences to experience the full range of Scully’s latest evolution, including nearly two dozen works never before seen by the public.
Now through February 3, 2019 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Sean Scully: Landline traces the "Landline" series’ expression through a variety of media, with nearly 40 oil paintings, pastels, watercolors, and photographs (1999–2017), and layered aluminum Stack sculptures, iconic forms that reflect in three dimensions the horizontal movement of his paintings. Vibrating with urgency and beauty, together these works form a continuous current of color that will pulsate through the Hirshhorn’s circular second-floor gallery.
“I think of land, sea, sky. And they always make a massive connection. I try to paint this, this sense of the elemental coming together of land and sea, sky and land…stacked in horizon lines endlessly beginning and ending…” – Sean Scully
Spanning a variety of media—including watercolor, oil painting, and sculpture—the works in the exhibition showcase the artist’s remarkable ability to deepen, mystify, and vary his relatively limited repertoire of motifs—largely comprised of vertical and horizontal stripes. With gestures toward the land, sea, and sky (and the indistinct lines between them), the works navigate the elemental relationships that compose our world, and in doing so reveal the sublime character of those interactions.
This exhibition debuts more than twenty years after the Hirshhorn opened Scully’s first mid-career retrospective in 1995, a pivotal exhibition that cemented his status at the center of contemporary painting. Building on the narrative of this 1995 survey, Sean Scully: Landline affords viewers the opportunity to witness the next step in Scully’s artistic evolution, one that continues to impact the greater landscape of contemporary abstract art. Following its Hirshhorn debut, the series will travel to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, in Spring 2019.
Curated by Stéphane Aquin, Chief Curator with curatorial assistance from Sandy Guttman.
Sean Scully (b. Dublin, Ireland, 1945) is a painter, printmaker, sculptor, and poet, and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Harkness Fellowship. Scully’s works are in a number of private and public collections, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. In 2015, Scully participated in the Venice Biennale with his solo exhibition Land Sea at the Palazzo Falier. He currently splits his time living and working in New York and the Bavarian countryside.