Landline Wave

Sean Scully

Landline Wave (2014) Oil on aluminum, 85" x 75", The O'Brien Collection

Landlines 1

Sean Scully was born in Dublin in 1945, and grew up in the south of London, where his family moved in 1949. He began painting in the late 1960s, and moved to New York City in 1975; he became an American citizen in 1983. Scully has shown extensively, both nationally and internationally, including, most recently, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, England, the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut, the National Gallery of Art in London and San Giorgio Maggiore for the Venice Biennale, Upcoming solo exhibitions include the Albertina, Vienna, and in 2020 a major retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Scully is known for rich, painterly abstractions in which stripes or blocks of layered color are a prevailing motif. The delineated geometry of his work provides structure for an expressive, physical rendering of color, light, and texture. Scully’s simplification of his compositions and use of repetitive forms—squares, rectangles, bands—echoes architectural motifs (doors, windows, walls) and in this way appeals to a universal understanding and temporal navigation of the picture plane. However, the intimacy of Scully’s process, in which he layers and manipulates paint with varying brushstrokes and sensibilities, results in a highly sensual and tactile materiality. His colors and their interactions, often subtly harmonized, elicit profound emotional associations. Scully does not shy away from Romantic ideals and the potential for personal revelation. He strives to combine, as he has said, “intimacy with monumentality.”

Biography from the gallery Cheim & Read, New York City, which represents Mr. Scully.   


Poetic and musical reflections on Sean Scully's Landline Wave are courtesy of this month's guest curator, Liz Carroll, award-winning composer, fiddler, and recording artist.

Poem:  The Lost Land, by Eavan Boland


Maeve Gilchrist

Maeve Gilchrist's track from her CD, "The Harpweaver," called "The Calm."

[To listen to the music while looking at the painting, please click on the link and then navigate back to this main page.]










The painting Landline Wave graced the cover of Liz’s latest CD, half day road:

Scully Liz Cover













Sean Scully's Wall of Light Black (1998) is held by Notre Dame's Snite Museum of Art:


The green and misty Irish landscape is practically a national symbol. Sean Scully, who was born in Dublin, is intrigued by the atmosphere of this island landscape, by the way light peeks in and out of perception, and how this quality might relate to the Irish people. The light has a peculiar and melancholic quality, what the late poet Robert Duncan called "a light wet with doubt." ...While many artists seek to bring light out of dark, Scully seems intent on bringing darkness to light, as if he were revealing a deep inner secret. His Wall of Light paintings are not illustrative of a particular wall but are virtually analogous to the building of one. Color is applied in various bricklike configurations that must fit together in order to create a compact overall field--one that is not too perfect. Scully's blocks of color, at their best, have the naturalness of stones.

from Snite Museum of Art, Selected Works: Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, 2005)