Sean Scully Facts

Sean Scully is an Irish-born abstract artist best known for his large geometric paintings with horizontal and vertical bands of colour. He also works with photography, sculpture, printmaking, and watercolour.

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Facts About Sean Scully

  • Sean Scully was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1945.
  • In the late 1940s, his family moved from Ireland to London.
  • Sean Scully dreamed of being an artist when he was a child.
  • Between the age of 15 and 17, he worked as an apprentice at a London printing shop.
  • He worked various jobs as a young man, including being a graphic designer, a messenger, a plasterer’s labourer, a Christmas postman, a building site brick cleaner, and a worker at a cardboard factory.
  • He signed up for evening classes at the Central School of Art in London, and at the age of 20, he studied at the Croydon College of Art and Newcastle University.
  • In 1969, he travelled to Morocco and became inspired by the coloured stripes woven into the tents and worn on the robes of the local population.
  • In 1972, Sean Scully attended Harvard University.
  • He moved to New York in 1975and became friends with the artist Rober Ryman.
  • In New York, he was influenced by the American Minimalism movement, and his works during the 1970s often feature a grey monochrome palette.
  • During the 1980s, Sean Scully visited Morocco and Mexico several times, and his work broke away from the Minimalist movement. He reintroduced colour, and rather than using tape and spray paint to form perfect lines, he embraced freehand painting with visible brushstrokes.

I got impatient with the precious remoteness of high-end abstraction. I wanted to bring painting back to metaphor and expressivenes.

Sean Scully
  • In 2002, Sean Scully became Professor of Painting at Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts in Germany.
  • He restored the Church of Santa Cecilia de Montserrat in Spain in 2015. He displayed some of his paintings in the building, added some frescoes to the walls, and designed the altar and the cross.
  • From 2015, Sean Scully worked on sculptural projects, such as the Tower series, and the Stack series. He used steel, stainless steel, and marble. He has also worked with wood and glass.
  • His artwork has been exhibited in galleries and museums in cities all over the world, including London, New York, Los Angeles, Munich, Paris, Stuttgart, Barcelona, Glasgow, Dublin, Newcastle, Sydney, Tokyo, Zurich, Essen, Linz, Beijing and Shanghai.
  • He has twice been nominated for the Turner Prize.
  • Sean Scully lives in the US but spends a lot of time in Europe.
  • He can speak English, Spanish, and some German.
  • He is married to the artist Liliane Tomasko.
  • Over the years, he has experimented with different supports (painting surfaces) for his work other than canvas. For Wall of Light Pink Pink he used aluminium, and for Vincent he used linen.
  • His works in pastel are smaller than the works he creates using oil paints.
  • He likes the figurative paintings of Luc Tuymans.
  • Sean Scully had a pet rabbit as a child.
  • He used to enjoy making sculptures with plaster of Paris when he was a boy growing up in London.
  • He was good friends with the poet Seamus Heaney.
  • He admires the work of Kazimir Malevich, a Russian artist who died in 1935.
  • The artist Ai Weiwei was a student of Sean Scully’s in New York.
  • He has handpainted more than 1400 paintings during his career.
  • He loves some of the paintings by Masaccio, Cimabue, and Pierre Bonnard. He has also expressed admiration for works by Paul Cézanne, Agnes Martin, Willem de Kooning, and Claude Monet.
  • He loves music and listens to Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson. He also likes Agnes Obel and Lukas Graham.
  • Sean Scully’s son Paul died in a car accident in 1983 at the age of 18.

More Sean Scully Information

How much are Sean Scully paintings worth?

His work routinely sells for more than $1,000,000. For example, in 2020 his painting titled If sold for $1.28 million, and in 2017 Landline Sea sold for $1.69 million.

What kind of artist is Sean Scully and what is his art style?

He is best known for his abstract paintings that combine rigid geometry, usually in the form of layered stripes and blocks, with colour and expressive texture.

His paintings are sometimes categorised as works of emotional abstraction.

His paintings are said to have been influenced by the works of Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Henri Matisse, and Piet Mondrian.

My color choices are extremely intuitive. I have no clue at all what color I will be choosing next. I have everything at my disposal.

Sean Scully