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."
Question: What would you do if you were a young artist?
Scully: If I was young artist. If I was a young artist I probably go and live in Germany because I think the Germany is the motor of Europe and it’s the intellectual center of the art world. And Berlin is very similar to what New York was and New York maybe possibly at the end of it’s… burning life as an art center. You know New York maybe moving toward… to be what Paris was in the 60s’. It’s still a headquarter in a certain sense showing place but creativity, creativity I might moved to, yeah I might go to Berlin where you can get cheap places and it’s very important that when you are a young artist to have friends because you have to keep each other warmed. You have to hold each other. Learn from each other. Support each other. Make a society and keep each other warmed and that’s how you can get through.
Question: What young artists do you like?
Scully: Well, I found the whole figurative art movement fascinating. I thought it was wonderful defensive painting and I don’t particularly make a distinction between abstraction and figuration in terms of what I like, what I’m attracted too and I’m very attracted to the life seek school painters near Ralph for example. I find very nice and then many others, there are many others and I thought that was a very interesting way of renovating an interesting painting. And what seems to happen, what was has happen so far is that as a strong sense of figuration. I don’t know if its’ over simplification. Well, any generalization is over simplification but in time of richness, wealth figurative art what is sometimes known as Pop Art nor less it’s derivation plainly Pop Art and so on which the young German painters where interested in. It tends to be in the foreground and very dominant because it’s popular and more people get involved but as art with us, to it’s trunk it gets harder and then abstraction seems to make a comeback and this is certainly what happen if you look back the 90s’ where there’s lot of abstraction. The 80s’ where there was a lot figuration and that was a époque of copious wealth. The 70s’ was abstract. The 60s’ was full out with Pop Art so this seems to happen and now we might be looking a lot of abstract painting.
Question: What's the future of painting?
Scully: Well I think the next generation of artists; painter artists will be more concerned with a kind of regeneration of spiritual value, a reflective art as opposed to a populist, bombastic, obvious art. I think there will be more integrity in art because art and politics do hold hands. They do walk down the avenue together. I think we’re going to see that and we got that now in the United States. We got to move significantly to social order, social awareness, social caring, a sense of responsibility, repairing the extremely tarnished, wantonly tarnished image of America, outside America and a sense of global responsibility. The sense that we are all in the family together which is what John F. Kennedy talked about, we all breathe the same air, his famous remark. And I think we will return to that and the artists will be concern with a more reflective vision.