216
216
Sean Scully
WALL OF LIGHT PINK GREY SKY
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800,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 860,000 USD
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216
Sean Scully
WALL OF LIGHT PINK GREY SKY
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
800,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 860,000 USD
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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Curated

|
New York

Sean Scully
B. 1945
WALL OF LIGHT PINK GREY SKY
signed, titled and dated 2011 on the reverse
oil on canvas
84 5/8 by 74 7/8 in. 215 by 190 cm.
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Provenance

Galeria Carles Taché, Barcelona
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Executed in 2011, Wall of Light Pink Grey Sky is a monumental painting from Sean Scully’s celebrated series, composed in the inimitable pictorial dialect of glossily painted horizontal and vertical bars that have become the artist’s hallmark. The Wall of Light series, of which the present work is a definitive example, represents the culmination of Scully’s career-long exploration of abstract painting. Using a five-inch brush and oil paints thickened with varnish, he builds up his compositions gradually, applying multiple layers of paint to animate the surface with luxuriant and calligraphic strokes. Bricks of scorched terracotta and carbon black are enlivened by the paint’s seductive and tactile texture. As each layer is applied, the feathered edges of these swathes of pigment and the spaces between them create fascinating, highly complex structures. In Wall of Light Pink Grey Sky, panels of earthy maroon coalesce with charcoal greys and dusky pinks, forming interwoven layers of color that radiate light and energy. At the seams of each panel, previous layers of brilliant red pigment peek out, like light shining through the cracks in a wall. The result is a remarkably rich and nuanced painterly surface. Compositionally, the work evokes the architectural structure of its title, yet as the contradiction inherent in the name implies, these solid structures are dematerialized by Scully's use of color, so that in density there is light and in ethereality there is weight.

The inspiration for the Wall of Light series came from a visit Scully made to Mexico in the early 1980s, where he was fascinated by the stones of ancient Mayan walls at Yucatan, which, when animated by light, seemed to reflect the passage of time. "These places in the Yucatan were cities, now you see a wall, what remains, a wall transformed by light, the walls change color, from pink to blue to red. I would get up early, the shadows completely transform the ruined architecture, they make it seem hopeful one moment, tragic another" (the artist cited in David Carrier, Sean Scully, London 2004, p. 25). After several return trips and almost twenty years of ruminating on this vision, Scully made his first Wall of Light painting in 1998. Spanning decades, locations, and media, this series crystallizes the full spectrum of Scully’s formal and chromatic language. Through Wall of Light Pink Grey Sky, Scully evokes the Mediterranean light, sun baked terracotta and long, creeping shadows of dusk from the environs of his Barcelona studio. A great admirer of traditional Spanish painting from Velasquez to Goya, Scully is heavily influenced by these masters’ dramatic palettes, and particularly their use of black, which he here utilizes to anchor the four corners of his composition. Further, like his Spanish heroes, Scully is motivated by the brushstroke, and the individual gesture of the artist’s hand that reveals his presence and process. In this way Scully's paintings, although resolutely abstract, are replete with emotive content.

More than any artist of his generation, Scully combines the formal traditions of European masters – from the brooding tones of Caravaggio and Manet to the spectacular brushwork of van Gogh and Matisse – with a distinctly American abstract tradition. His geometric style combines the minimalist architecture of Donald Judd and Frank Stella that reigned throughout his early years as a painter, with the dramatic sublime aesthetic inherited from the New York School of color-field painters like Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. Born in Ireland, he studied in London but sought out the great masters of Abstract Expressionism in New York, where he settled from 1975. Seeing this heroic style of post-war painting as his direct heritage, it is with Rothko in particular that he feels a special affinity. In Rothko’s work, light combines with darkness and a moody, melancholic drama, which has become the cornerstone of Scully’s appreciation for this modern master. Though an admirer of the simple geometry of Minimalism, Scully felt that its erasure of the individual’s hand was too sterile, preferring instead to imbue his works with emotion and personality. As he has said, “The whole point of painting is that it has the potential to be so humanistic, so expressive. To give that up is a tremendous mistake, because then what you are doing is imitating forms of technological expression that can be manifested more directly, more efficiently, and frankly, more beautifully, in their original form. It is the opposite of what I am trying to do. I want my brushstrokes to be full of feeling – material feeling manifested in form and color.” (The artist quoted in Exh. Cat, Sean Scully: The Art of the Stripe, Hood Museum of Art Dartmouth College, Hanover 2008, p. 66)

Like Rothko, Scully has evolved his own abstract language of rectangular brick-like forms that fit closely together, and are characterized by broad, feathered, nuanced brushstrokes. By paring down his means to pure color and surface texture, he seeks to tease out feeling and contemplation from the depths of tone, gesture, and light in layer upon layer of paint. Manifesting a complete adherence to the principal tenets of abstraction, in Wall of Light Pink Grey Sky Scully lyrically conveys its emotional power, its storytelling potential, and above all, its capacity to convey light.

 

 

Contemporary Curated

|
New York