WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonians Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
presents the museum premiere of Sean Scullys (b. 1945) acclaimed Landline series Sept. 13Feb. 3, 2019. One of the major highlights of the 56th Venice Biennale, the abstract paintings represent a dramatic and seminal shift in the work of one of todays most important abstract artists, and the exhibition marks the first chance for audiences to experience the full range of Scullys latest evolution, including nearly two dozen works never before seen by the public. Following its Hirshhorn debut, Landline will travel to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, in spring 2019.
Sean Scully: Landline traces the series expression through a variety of media, with nearly 40 oil paintings, pastels, watercolors and photographs (19992017), 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 Hirshhorns circular second-floor gallery.
Landline debuts more than 20 years after the Hirshhorn opened Scullys first mid-career retrospective in 1995, a pivotal exhibition that illuminated Scullys own artistic transformation and cemented his status at the center of contemporary abstract painting.
Sean Scully continues to be one of the most influential painters working today, said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. At the Hirshhorn, we are dedicated to examining and presenting the many different stages of an artists career, and in Seans case, we are honored to have the opportunity to build upon the narrative of his 1995 survey exhibition. Throughout the course of his career, Sean has revolutionized abstract painting, and we look forward to showcasing this full scope of this important body of work for the first time.
Known for combining the geometry of European concrete art with the ethereality of American abstraction, Scullys thick, gestural brushstrokes over grids of stripes and squares evoke the energy and beauty of the natural world. His Landline works are largely inspired by his years in Ireland, particularly his time looking out to the sea. In these moments, he saw the layers of the world pressed into the space in front of him, forming the stacks that would come to characterize this series. The expressive and unconstrained bands of color reach beyond abstraction and into the sublime, where the contours of landscapes unfold to reveal the physical and emotional dimensions of experience, trauma and memory.
According to Scully, I was always looking at the horizon lineat the way the end of the sea touches the beginning of the sky, the way the sky presses down on the sea and the way that line, that relationship, is painted.
Scully has developed a singular style, rooted in the traditions of Abstract Expressionism, while simultaneously reflecting a deep consideration of the natural world, said Stéphane Aquin, the Hirshhorns chief curator. Inspired by his personal memories, the Landline paintings demonstrate how the essential elements of light, movement and color can be pared down to their most fundamental and universal forms, while still evoking the complexities of reality and referencing the history of painting itself.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalog, featuring an interview of Scully by Aquin, an essay by Patricia Hickson, the Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum, and original poetry by Kelly Grovier, inspired by Landline and written specifically for this publication.
Also opening in September is Sean Scully: Inside Outside at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Scullys first museum exhibition of sculpture and painting in the U.K., Sept. 29Jan 6, 2019.
Scully lives and works in New York and Germany. He recently became one of the only Western artists to have had a career-length retrospective exhibition in China (his 2014 exhibition of over 100 paintings traveled from Shanghai to Beijing), and he was recently the subject of solo exhibitions in São Paulo, Brazil, at the Pinacoteca do Estado; in Neuhaus, Austria, in the inaugural show at the new Museum Liaunig; in Venice, Italy, during the Biennale; in Dublin, where the National Gallery of Ireland exhibited five major paintings from the collection of 40 works held by the Tate in London, as well as his recent photographs; and in Cork, Ireland, at the Crawford Art Gallery. He is the recipient of the 2016 Harpers Bazaar Art International Artist of the Year Award, has twice been shortlisted for the Turner Prize and his works are included in the permanent collections of nearly every major North American museum, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Institute of Chicago, Broad Art Foundation, High Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others.