Sean Scully Deconstructs His Various Artistic Processes

Sean Scully is a leading representative of a new generation of abstract painters that emerged towards the end of the twentieth century.  His work is strongly acclaimed, and has been exhibited in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Albright-Knox Gallery, Galleria de Arte Moderna, Bologna and Gallerie Jeu de Paume, Pais.

Sean Scully has moved steadily over the past three decades to his current position in the highest rank of painters working in the abstract tradition.  Scully began painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s amid the dominance of Op Art in Britain. He then moved to America, where, after five years of struggle, he found his painterly voice in the stripe. Scully has relentlessly pursued the possibilities offered by his exploration of colored stripes, always remaining true to his assertion that "the stripe is a signifier of modernism."

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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What is your process?

Scully:    I… work along media.  I worked in prints.  I take photographs.  I do little sketches.  I do water colors, the pastels, small paintings, big paintings and of course most important I’m looking and thinking.  When I start to painting for example I draw with the carbon on the end of the stick, charcoal on the end of the stick then I make the paint and it’s in buckets and now [waiting] to wet and hopefully I get it in one session, and if don’t I have the difficult task of waiting so I can revisit the painting which sometimes, well, no actually often hands and then I go back again.  And I keep doing it until it’s, until it’s mine. 

Question: Do you have a specific routine?

Scully:    Yeah, I’m very habitual.  I get up in the morning just like everybody else and then I do something that I guess it’s called getting ready.  Because my work is extremely dependent of being ready because it is much a dance as it is visual.  So, I do my correspondence.  I mess around.  I walked around.  I play with the cat.  I had my telephone calls.  I go in the studio.  I nearly start work.  I leave the studio out.  I go back in the studio again and I try to start work again and maybe on something small and then I’m kind of into it, maybe I stop for lunch and then I’m ready.  So, afternoon is crescendo time.


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