Mnuchin Gallery is proud to present Sean Scully: The Eighties, a solo exhibition of paintings by Sean Scully (b. 1945, Dublin), the globally renowned painter celebrated for his singular, poetic mode of Post-Minimalist abstraction. The exhibition will present a focused look at the pivotal decade of the artist’s career in which he transitioned away from the precisely striped and gridded canvases of his early work into the painterly, multipart constructions that characterize his practice today. This will be the first exhibition in the United States to examine this breakthrough moment in Scully’s oeuvre, tracing his evolution from 1982 through 1989. The exhibition will bring together examples from museums and private collections and will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated, hardcover catalogue authored by Deborah Solomon.
Uptown, at Mnuchin Gallery, “Sean Scully: The Eighties” revisited some of this powerful abstract painter’s formative works—essentially the foundation of his preoccupations to date. The exhibited paintings, begun when Scully had definitively established himself in New York, after emigrating from England, are early manifestations of his now familiar vocabulary of blocks and bands of mysterious, unnameable color, applied with rough, deliberate strokes.
Sean Scully has a deep emotional attachment to his art, so he has no time for the coolness of today’s abstraction
More than 25 years since they were made, the paintings in “Sean Scully: The Eighties,” now at Mnuchin, have lost none of their potency. In fact, for this viewer, they have only increased in resonance. The early ‘80s represented a transitional moment in Scully’s career, and by the end of the decade a mode of painting emerged that was assertively and recognizably the artist’s own.
Currently on show at Mnuchin Gallery New York, Sean Scully: The Eighties is a rare and excellent opportunity to delve into a crucial moment of the painter’s work and development as an artist. The foundations for Scully’s breakthrough can be found in those years, and in Montauk he had reached a watershed.
If you’re a devotee of Sean Scully’s earlier work, this has been a good year for you. In the spring, Cheim and Read hung an excellent and quite surprising show of the painter’s work from the 70s in a raw, industrial space in Queens. In September, Mnuchin Gallery followed with a selection of Scully’s work from the 80s.
IN New York Magazine
In "Sean Scully: The Eighties," paintings like "By Night and by Day" show how Scully employed moody colors, overlapping layers of pigment and expressive brushwork to create sensual geometrics imbued with romantic explorations of color, light and texture.
Sean Scully's painting style came about almost by accident. He used some leftover shelving to frame the doors and interior windows of his New York studio--and simply kept at it. He made his own stretchers, adding frames inside frames, which resulted in his signature invention: a painting that is really a series of paintings within, beside, and on top of other paintings. They are, literally and figuratively, layered.
“I’ve made 1,400 paintings by hand. You’d have to be a madman to do that,” recites Sean Scully in his 2015 interview with The Guardian. The Irish-born painter has been religiously studying color, form, and texture for decades. He depicts basic human conditions such as grief, fear, or ardor without the delineated boundaries of representation. Bulky lines bordered by hazy brushstrokes and complicated geometric structures encapsulate a dangerous mind’s journey. The Eighties, his current exhibition at the Upper East Side’s Mnuchin Gallery, focuses on the era during which Scully turned away from meticulous and “clean” forms in favor of less premeditated and sculptural paintings – all the while maintaining his devotion to abstraction.
Sean Scully began his "five-year love affair with minimalism," as he later called it, in 1975, just after moving from the U.K. to New York. His paintings of that period were cold, "severe, invulnerable canvases," he once said, often done only in gradations of black.
Sean Scully (b Dublin, 1945) first gained international acclaim during the 1960s, with his hard-edged, brightly coloured paintings. His current exhibition at Mnuchin Gallery, New York, entitled Sean Scully: The Eighties,is the first to examine the pivotal moment in the artist’s career when he abandoned gridded, crisp compositions for a more painterly and poetic style. The artist has been committed to this approach to painting ever since. Scully, who in 2014 became the only western artist to have had a career-length retrospective in China, is currently the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, and later this year will have solo museum shows in the Czech Republic, Spain and New York.
The Art Newspaper
Sean Scully: the Eighties at Mnuchin Gallery highlights the artist's paintings from 1982-89, the period when he began making multi-panel constructions and traded in his brightly-hued, hard-edged precision for a more painterly style and moody palette.
The New York Times
Sean Scully: The Eighties (September 13-October 22) will be the first solo exhibition in the US dedicated to this decade of the artist’s career – a period that saw him move away from his precisely striped and gridded canvases of the 1970s to a more painterly approach that incorporated subtler shapes and multipart constructions. Organised in conjunction with the artist – and assisted by museums, dealers (including Timothy Taylor, Cheim & Read, and Galerie Lelong) and private collections – the Mnuchin Gallery show will highlight Scully’s object-like canvases that explore the geometries and architectural motifs inspired by his years living in New York.
If the LeWitt and Sandback shows are more conceptual, a Sean Scully painting exhibition at the Upper East Side’s Mnuchin Gallery will reveal just how personal a stripe can be. “Stripes are obviously central to Scully’s career,” says the gallery partner Sukanya Rajaratnam. While Frank Stella and his brand of minimalism influenced the artist, Scully took his work in a more “human direction” and imbued it with emotion and metaphor; some of the pieces, created following his older son’s death in 1987, use what Rajaratnaram notes is “a more somber palette.” (One work is even titled “Empty Heart.”)
Irish artist Sean Scully’s solo exhibition of paintings, entitled “Sean Scully: The Eighties,” will be on display at Mnuchin Gallery in New York from September 13 through October 22.
The New York Times
It wasn’t easy for the Dublin-born Sean Scully to make the abstract work that he did in the 1980s; given the trend toward figuration at the time, he was paddling hard against the tide. “I suffered a tremendous crisis,” Mr. Scully, 71, said in a telephone interview from what he described as “a loft in a farm in Bavaria, looking at the Alps.” “I thought that abstract painting in the form of Minimalism had stopped speaking to people,” he continued. “I do have patience and an indomitable spirit, so it’s worked out.”
Art Market Monitor
Sean Scully’s work comes and goes quietly on the art market making new record or near-record prices every few years. Earlier this Summer, the Irish American painter saw his best price in pounds at Christie’s for a 1992 work.