Sean Scully’s Philadelphia Museum Retrospective Postponed




The highly anticipated Philadelphia Museum of Art solo exhibition by the Irish/American artist Sean Scully has been postponed until October 2021. The announcement was made today 20/04/2020.

The museum released the following statement, “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and city and state directives, the Philadelphia Museum of Art remains closed to the public until further notice to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors”. 

As a result, “the opening celebration for Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas has been cancelled and the presentation of the exhibition has been deferred. We look forward to sharing and celebrating this exhibition and the achievements of this great artist when we can safely do so.”

Sean Scully told Artlyst, “We are doing the exhibition in October 2021, so it’s simply delayed. But of far greater importance, is how we take care of our most vulnerable right now. We have to look after each other, and the people on the Front Line, they are our heroes.”

Untitled (Window) (detail), 2017, by Sean Scully (American, born Ireland 1945) (Collection of the artist) © Sean Scully

Untitled (Window) (detail), 2017, by Sean Scully (American, born Ireland 1945) (Collection of the artist) © Sean Scully

The exhibition is an encounter with the poetic sensibility and technical virtuosity of one of the leading abstract artists of our time. Sean Scully’s arresting paintings and works on paper, will be presented in a comprehensive fifty-year retrospective, explore his signature stripes and reflect the artist’s bold experimentation with scale and composition. From the intimate to the monumental, the works on view stir the spirit and reveal Scully’s tireless dedication to the expressive power of painting.

Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas is made possible by Emily and Mike Cavanagh and Constance and Sankey Williams, with support from the museum’s endowment through the Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, and the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund.

The accompanying publication has been generously supported by Lisson Gallery, which also provided support for the exhibition. 

Sean Scully (born Dublin, Ireland, 1945) works in the mediums of painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and photography. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Harkness Fellowship. He has been nominated twice for the Turner Prize.

Scully’s works are in a number of private and public collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others.

In 2015 Scully participated in the Venice Biennale with his solo exhibition Land Sea at the Palazzo Falier. For the 2019 Biennale, the artist presented Human, a solo exhibition at the historic Basilica of San Giorgio. He currently splits his time living and working in New York and the Bavarian countryside of Munich.

For updates on the museum’s status, check their website

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