WILLIAM SCOTT (British / 1913-1989)

Recognized as one of the most important British artists of the twentieth century, William Scott was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1913, to an Irish father and Scottish mother. Scott grew up in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, and is often claimed now as an Irish artist, but his scope and his vision were international rather than local. William Scott studied at the Belfast College of Art 1928-1931 and the Royal Academy Schools, London, 1931-1935. In 1937 he married Mary Lucas, a sculptor and painter who had been a fellow student at the RA Schools. Before WWII the Scotts lived in France, where William, Mary, and their friend Geoffrey Nelson ran the Pont-Aven School of Painting in Brittany in the summer, and spent the rest of the year living and working on the Côte d'Azur. The outbreak of WWII forced a hurried retreat, first to Ireland, then to England. Scott left a large number of works behind in Pont-Aven, that were confiscated and presumably destroyed by the Nazis. In 1942, William Scott had his first solo show at the Leger Gallery in London. By this time he was already serving in the army. He spent 4 years in the Royal Engineers. Although he was unable to paint during this time, a stint in the map-making section enabled him to learn lithography. His first lithographs were commissioned by Wolfgang Foges and Walter Neurath at the pioneering book packager Adprint, and published in the book Soldier's Verse in the series New Excursions in British Poetry, packaged by Adprint for Frederick Muller, under the general editorship of Sheila Shannon and W. J. Turner. Other artists who contributed original lithographs to this exceptional series included John Piper, John Craxton, Michael Ayrton, and Robert Colquhoun, and Scott's lithographs conform broadly to the Neo-Romantic aesthetic that this suggests. From 1946-1956 William Scott taught painting at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham. In 1952 Scott was deeply impressed by Nicolas de Staël's show at the Matthiesen Gallery in London, and that year Scott and Patrick Heron travelled to Paris to meet de Staël. William Scott's work (like that of his friend Victor Pasmore) was already becoming more simplified and more abstract, and he now became known as a purely abstract artist, though references to recognizable objects such as saucepans, chairs, and tables can still be found in his "abstract" work. William Scott's essential artistic concern was with achieving balance, rather than setting up a rigid distinction between figuration and abstraction. In 1953 William Scott travelled to New York, where he met Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock, and Frans Kline. Mark Rothko in particular became a close friend. William Scott was elected RA in 1984. Key exhibitions include 3 British Artists: Hepworth, Scott, Bacon at the Martha Graham Gallery, New York, in 1954, and two major retrospectives, at the Tate Gallery, London, in 1972, and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in 1998. See: Alan Bowness, William Scott: Paintings (1964); Norbert Lynton, William Scott (2004).

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Selected prints by WILLIAM SCOTT

Soldiers' Verse XI, 1945
Soldiers' Verse IX, 1945
Soldiers' Verse VIII, 1945

View all available prints by WILLIAM SCOTT