American painter of Irish birth. He moved to England with his family in 1949. Scully studied at Croydon College of Art (1965–7), and then studied and taught at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1967–71), and in the USA at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1972–3). In 1975 he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship and established his studio in New York, where he settled, becoming an American citizen in 1983. His early were identified with the vigorous debates of the early 1970s about art and language. In Orange Slide
(1972) and Amber
(1972–3; both London, Mayor Rowan Gal.) elaborately meshed grid structures challenged critical response with their insistent syncopated rhythm and vibrant impact. From the early 1980s Scully's increasing awareness of the arid effect of formal led to a simplification of means with greater breadth of handling and pictorial construction. Paintings integrated irregular superimposed to produce central motifs of vertical stripes within broad bands of contrasting hues. Scully's progress was distinguished by a remarkable and sometimes unfashionable commitment to the fundamental concerns of abstract art.
Sean Scully, Paintings, 1971–1981 (exh. cat. by J. Masheck, Birmingham, Ikon Gal., 1981)
Sean Scully (exh. cat., text C. Ratcliff; London, Whitechapel A.G., 1989)
M. Poirier: Sean Scully (New York, 1990)