May 1, 2014

Masters Series with Sean Scully

Master of the Contemporary

Sean Scully’s remarkable abstract paintings of stripes, blocks and bars have earned him international renown. But it wasn’t always so, as he shared during his Masters Series lecture at the Museum’s Peristyle on May 1.

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.” 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—his work is now exhibited internationally and is part of the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery, London and the National Gallery of Australia. Ookbar, his large-scale canvas, can be seen in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Gallery 1.

To have an audience with the artist was a privilege for visitors and staff alike. “Sean Scully is one of the most esteemed painters working in the abstract tradition,” said Brian Kennedy, Museum director. “He has a capacity for talking about art that opens people’s eyes.”

Sean Scully and Brian Kennedy in front of 2012 acquisition Ookbar.