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Works on paper (1953-1986) by William Scott on view at Denenberg Fine Arts in Los Angeles
William Scott, Green, Black & White, 1953. © The estate of William Scott.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- When James Johnson Sweeney, Director of New York’s Guggenheim Museum first saw William Scott’s paintings in the 1950s, he declared to Scott’s American dealer, Martha Jackson, ‘at last Britain has a painter!’ For more than fifty years, artist William Scott CBE RA (1913 -1989) has been a key figure in European and American art and is considered one of the most influential British painters of the 20th century. Scott visited New York in the early 1950s and was the first British artist of his generation to make contact with the abstract expressionists including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. He also became a close friend of Mark Rothko.

To mark the centenary of his birth, Denenberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles is hosting a major exhibition in his honor, developed with the support of the William Scott Foundation. The exhibition features a selection of Scott’s original drawings, paintings and textiles. Many of these pieces are being displayed to the general public for the very first time with highlights including Green, Black & White, a superb oil painting which dates from 1953, the year Scott met Rothko in New York.

Many of the works are available to buy with prices ranging from $12,500 to $145,000, and a portion of all sales being contributed to the Alzheimer’s Association California, Southland Chapter. There also is a new set of prints of one of Scott’s final paintings, Last Blue Pear, in a limited edition of 45. This stunning work was painted in 1985, after William Scott was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The prints are available to order exclusively from the Alzheimer’s Association California, Southland Chapter, at a special exhibition price of $750. 100% of all proceeds from the prints will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association California, Southland Chapter.

This exhibition forms part of wider William Scott centenary celebrations, which is taking place across the US and UK throughout 2013.

Highlights from the European programme include a major touring exhibition, which is currently taking place across the UK. Having launched in January at Tate St Ives, it will now open at The Hepworth, Wakefield in May 2013 and move to The Ulster Museum, Belfast in October. There will also be a further series of distinctive and complimentary exhibitions at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings; Enniskillen Castle Museums in Northern Ireland, where Scott grew up; and culminating in a show and events at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, Somerset, where Scott lived for most of his life. Exhibitions in London include Fifties Nudes at the Karsten Schubert Gallery and William Scott and Friends, opening in June at the Osborne Samuel Gallery.

In addition to this evolving, Centennial year of exhibitions, which sees the first major survey of the artist’s work for over 20 years, an exclusive and much anticipated Catalogue Raisonné has been published in limited edition by the William Scott Foundation, in partnership with Thames & Hudson. The comprehensive four-volume edition, edited by Sarah Whitfield, features almost 1,000 of the artist’s oil paintings, which he created prolifically between 1928 -1986, as well as unpublished letters, lecture notes and detailed documentation. The Catalogue Raisonné launched at the Royal Academy of Arts in London on 8th May and is available to preview at Denenberg Fine Arts.

With his first exhibition of two paintings at the Salon d’Automne at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris in 1938, William Scott is renowned for his powerful handling of paint in his exploration of still life, landscape and nude. Scott developed a unique language that pushed the connections of abstraction and figuration, leaving an influential legacy of work.

Scott was an artist of both enormous productivity and exceptional artistic judgment. Combining paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, the diverse exhibitions programme will offer varied explorations of his work, ranging from the nude to landscape, still life and the abstract. The film Every Picture Tells A Story, about Scott’s early life, made by his Oscar-winning son, James Scott and featuring the late Natasha Richardson, this year received a special screening at the BFI Southbank, London as part of its Projecting the Archive series.

Across an international career spanning five decades, Scott produced an extraordinary body of work and is known as much for his close associations with St Ives artists Patrick Heron and Peter Lanyon, as well as for being one of the most celebrated Irish painters together with Roderic O’Conor, Jack B. Yeats and Louis le Brocquy. Internationally exhibited alongside Mark Rothko, Alberto Burri and Antoni Tapies, this year-long celebration secures William Scott’s reputation as one of the leading British painters of the Twentieth century.

William Scott was born in Greenock, Scotland, to Scots-Irish parents, in 1913. In 1924 Scott moved with his mother to Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, to join his father in his native town. His father was a housepainter and sign-writer and was killed in an accident in 1927 while trying to save lives in a local fire. Scott was educated at the Model School and privately taught by Kathleen Bridle. He attended night classes in art at the Technical School, before he went to Belfast College of Art in 1928. He was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools in London in 1931 and there won a silver medal and became a Landseer scholar in painting. While in London he shared an apartment and became friends with the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.

He married in 1937 and lived abroad, mostly in Italy and France, where he founded an art school in Pont-Aven, Brittany. He abruptly returned to the UK in 1939 following the declaration of war. His sons, Robert and James, were born in 1940 and 1941. In 1942 he joined the army where he became attached to the map making section of the Royal Engineers. The same year he had his first solo exhibition at the Leger Galleries in London. In 1946 he returned briefly to Pont-Aven to recover the paintings he had left behind at the outbreak of war, but failed to find them. From 1946 until 1956 Scott was senior lecturer in painting at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham Court.

In the summer of 1953 he visited the USA where he met Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Mark Rothko. Scott was the first British artist to meet Rothko and become familiar with his work. Together with his fellow artists, he helped to make the British art establishment aware of Rothko and the new American painting. Although his work had moved towards abstraction in 1953 after his meeting with the new generation of American painters, he turned back to his roots in European painting and a simplified form of figuration.

He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1958. In 1959-61 he executed a large, ambitious mural for the entrance hall of Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry, in which he drew upon his experience of recent American painting. He died at his home near Bath, Somerset, in 1989, having suffered from Alzheimer's for some years.

A major retrospective of his work was held at the Tate Gallery in 1972. Further important exhibitions were held in 1986 in Edinburgh, Dublin and Belfast. In 1998, a large survey show was organised by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

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