William Scott

MBAC Artists WS 2

William Scott was born February 15th 1913 in Greenock, Scotland. However, he spent much of his adolescence in rural Ireland where Scott was constantly surrounded by countryside and traditional domestic settings, the strong influence of which we can see in his painting.  Scott was educated at the Belfast College of Art before moving to Port Aven in 1937. This area of the south of France was a popular inspiration for many influential artists and Scott followed in the footsteps in the likes of Gauguin, Matisse and the Fauvists. At the start of the Second World War Scott moved his family back to Britain and started teaching at the school of art in Bath, and this is where he spent the majority of his career.

Scott is known for being a pioneer of British Abstraction in the 1950s, with his ability to portray the significance of everyday objects regarded as being unparalleled by critics and peers. His most noted works are often those that contain items such as plates and frying pan’s. These images were very much simplified and distinctive but it was Scott’s organisation of space that made him revolutionary. By 1956 Scott’s national and international success had been solidified and travels to the United States had resulted in friendships with artists such as Rothko and De Kooning. The bond with these peers made Scott one of the first British artists to be aware of Abstract Expressionism, where simple and traditional subject matters were abstracted. William Scott’s themes of landscape, still life and the female nude were explorations of the relationship between abstraction and figuration and as a result make Scott’s paintings truly unique.

Major Retrospectives 

Royal Academy of Arts, London, Summer Exhibition, 1936

Tate Gallery, London, The Private Collector: An Exhibition of Pictures and Sculpture Belonging to Members of the Contemporary Art Society, 23 March–23 April 1950

Tate Gallery, London, William Scott: Paintings Drawings and Gouaches 1938–1971, 19 April–29 May 1972

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, The New Decade – 22 European Painters and Sculptors, 10 May–7 August 1955 (and subsequent tour) 

Tate Gallery, London, Contemporary Art Society. Exhibition of Paintings, Water Colours, Sculpture, Prints and Drawings, February 1956

Tate Gallery, London, An Exhibition of Paintings from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, 16 April–26 May 1957 (and subsequent tour)

XXIX Venice Biennale, Venice, Kenneth Armitage, S.W. Hayter, William Scott, 1 June–30 September 1958 (and subsequent tour)

Tate Gallery, London, Contemporary Art Society 50th Anniversary Exhibition: The First Fifty Years 1910–1960, 1 April–8 May 1960

XXXII Venice Biennale, Venice, Arte d’Oggi nei Musei, 20 June–18 October 1964


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