William Scott, R.A.
- William Scott, R.A.
- Winter Still Life No.2
- oil on canvas
Acquired directly from the above by Gimpel Fils, London, 1993, where acquired by David Bowie
Atlanta, Georgia State University Art Gallery, The Collection of Mr & Mrs Robert J. Fusillo. Contemporary Works, 30th October - 25th November 1970, cat. no.24 (as Winter Still Life II).
For a brief two year period, following his visit to New York in 1953 when he was introduced to the leading Abstract Expressionists, Scott’s work approached near total abstraction. However he soon returned to the still life with renewed vigour and by 1956 was working on four paintings intended for The Seasons, a contemporary art exhibition at the Tate. He exhibited only three pictures, Winter Still Life (Tate, London), Brown Still Life (Private Collection) and Still Life, Blue (National Gallery of Canada), but chose to keep the fourth, the present lot, in his own collection for a further three years before selling it to the esteemed private collector Robert Fusillo.
Scott consistently employed the still-life as a means to explore the same concerns as his American counterparts while retaining an inherently British quality to his pictures. However he couldn’t reconcile the daring and direct style of Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning and Kline, who were buoyed by an economic boom and atmosphere of infinite possibility, with the brutal realities of recovery in post-war Europe. Although the present work removes almost any illusion to depth and perspective, it still draws inspiration from the familiar 'old country objects' which surrounded the artist in childhood and now hung on the walls of his West Country studio.
The isolated bright white of the saucepan contrasts brilliantly to the painting’s richly textured surface of blues, navies and blacks. The shapes and forms emerge slowly from the darkness, almost forming an austere kitchen on a dark winter’s day, challenging our inclination to impose form and order on abstract shapes and colours. The flat pictorial plane, the impossible tilt of the table, the handles which carve up blocks of colour: all work to reference the still life tradition whilst also seeking to redefine it, to strip it of any adherence to realism and to 'carry us into unfamiliar territory that lies beyond the clutter of the millions of visual images that bombard our consciousness every second of the day' (Jonathan Benington et al., William Scott: Simplicity and Subject, Bath, 2013, p.9).