Tag Archives: William Scott

William Scott: Abstracting and Appreciating the Everyday

William Scott: Abstracting and Appreciating the Everyday

Five Pears 1976
William Scott (1913–1989)
British Council Collection


Art UK:

To some art critics, the twentieth-century British artist William Scott’s kitchen-table still lifes are too timid – as Roberta Smith wrote in The New York Times, they can be seen as ‘abstract paintings for people who don’t like abstraction’. Others, myself included, find them enticingly reduced and for the most part easily readable, which is part of their charm.

Scott’s compositions are striking in their simplicity, and somehow both pleasurable and puritan, sensuous and serene. A few boiled eggs, a couple of ripe pears, fresh mackerel on a plate, pots and pans, a bunch of grapes: these are his humble subjects. As he once said, ‘I find beauty in plainness’.

Born in Scotland in 1913 and brought up in Northern Ireland, Scott’s surroundings were grey and barren, his upbringing strictly Presbyterian. The objects he painted in an often-sombre palette were, he said, ‘the symbols of the life I knew best’.

After his father died trying to save some folk from a burning building, the local council raised funds to send the 15-year-old to Belfast College of Art. From there, he won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where he bunked up with the poet Dylan Thomas and two other Welshmen and married fellow student Mary Lucas. In the Second World War, he was a cartographer, and in its wake, he was a pioneer of British abstraction.


Antiques Trade Gazette: William Scott Reintroduced to the US

In 1953, British artist William Scott (1913-89) made his first inroads into the New York art scene.

Still Life. Pears. 1977. Oil on canvas. 16″ x 20″ © Estate of William Scott 20

James Johnson Sweeney, director of the Guggenheim, went to an exhibition of his work in London and reported to gallerist Martha Jackson: “At last England has a painter.”

Jackson represented Scott throughout the 1950s, introducing him to figures such as Pollock, De Kooning and Kline. In this period, he was inspired particularly by another Abstract Expressionist, Mark Rothko, who befriended Scott and visited him in the UK.

Though the British painter’s international profile grew, it was eventually overshadowed in 1960s New York when pop art and Conceptualism came to dominate the art scene.

Now, Big Apple gallery Anita Rogers aims to put the artist back in front of the city’s art lovers. William Scott: Paintings and Drawings focuses on works from the 1950s-80s, including some prime examples of his Abstracts and domestic still-lifes.

Read the full article on Antiques Trade Gazette by Frances Allitt