Sean Scully - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2018 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Timothy Taylor Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2016

  • Exhibited

    London, Timothy Taylor Gallery, Sean Scully: Horizon, November 1 - December 17, 2016, pp. A15, B39 (illustrated, p. B35)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Sean Scully’s monumental Landline Red Veined, 2016, horizontal bands of rich crimson, deep blue and purple hues traverse the aluminum surface from left to right. The artist’s brushstrokes reveal the dark under layer which grounds the composition, all seven ribbons of color each mixing differently with the pigment beneath. The resulting abstractions which form Scully's Landline series are harmonious paintings with emotional undertones; they are rooted in nostalgia, informed by the artist’s memories of natural surroundings from his life travels. Born in Dublin, raised in London and now living and working out of his Chelsea studio in New York, Scully recalls that the first time he was inspired by a horizon line occurred while looking out at the sea on Ireland’s Aran Islands in Galway Bay. The memory has since inspired the artist’s ongoing series of Landline works, which were first revealed to the international public at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2015. Today, this renowned series is the subject of a show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. which began in September, marking Scully’s return to the institution since his mid-career retrospective held there in 1995.

    In a recent conversation with Patricia Hickson, curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, where the exhibited Landline works will travel to from the Hirshhorn, Scully describes this series as an attempt to “rescue abstraction from the abstract” (Sean Scully, quoted in Roger Caitlin, “Sean Scully’s Artworks Are a Study in Color, Horizon and Life’s Sorrows”, Smithsonian Magazine, September 20, 2018, online). While Scully’s monumental works like Landline Red Veined appear to pare painting down to its foundational building blocks of color and form, its origins in the horizon line reveal an undeniable connection to landscape painting. As such, the artist challenges the limitations of abstract painting and imbues it with something tangible. “I was always looking at the horizon line, at the way the end of the sea touches the beginning of the sky, the way the sky presses down on to the sea, and the way that line (that relationship) is painted... I try to paint this, this sense of the elemental coming together side by side, stacked in horizon lines endlessly beginning and ending…” (Sean Scully, quoted in Sean Scully: Horizon, exh. cat., Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, 2016, online).

    The first of Scully’s Landline works made in 2012 represented a dramatic shift from the artist’s earlier, more geometric compositions of the late 20th century that recall the minimalist aesthetic of Piet Mondrian. In these more recent works, Scully chooses instead to rely on a looser, more expressive style, inspired by the beauty of the natural world. It is the emotional undertones present in the Landline series that recall the color fields of Mark Rothko, an artist whose work Scully first encountered in 1967. The bands of paint in the present work relate to the thin washes of color Rothko used in his canvases and works on paper. Like Scully’s works, Rothko’s paintings are also grounded in a single underlying pigment on top of which different hues swell to the outer edges of the composition. The resulting relationship between the top and bottom layers of media envelops the viewer in a sublime flow of pure color and form. Having both suffered from psychological trauma and loss, Rothko and Scully sought salvation in their painterly processes, infusing each of their works with a beautiful melancholy that reflected their states of mind. As Scully described of his first Landline work, “I painted it on a quiet Sunday in Chelsea. There was an immense sadness in and around me. In the plants, the living things, the material of the studio. My life has been a story of great sorrow and great love. Landlines stand for edges” (Sean Scully, quoted in Roger Caitlin, “Sean Scully’s Artworks Are a Study in Color, Horizon and Life’s Sorrows”, Smithsonian Magazine, September 20, 2018, online).


Landline Red Veined

signed, titled and dated "LANDLINE RED VEINED Sean Scully 2016" on the reverse
oil on aluminum
85 x 75 in. (215.9 x 190.5 cm.)
Painted in 2016.

$900,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for $1,515,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 November 2018