Our ArtsJournal colleague Tyler Green is excited about the upcoming Sean Scully show at Washington’s Phillips Collection. I recently stumbled on a Journal of Contemporary Art interview with the artist and was absorbed. He has many provocative things to say and says them with eloquence and urgency.
Click through to see some of his luminous paintings as well as the full interview:
When I was young I was extremely political. We talked about this the other night. I don’t think there is such a thing as effective political art. There is only art that is politicized. You either do politics or you do not. I wasn’t interested in pretending to be political while I was an artist. There is another aspect to it. I came from an Irish background and started out life as an immigrant. I went to a convent school and I was yanked out because my parents had a big argument with them and I was put into a state school, which was full of emptiness and violence. In other words, I moved from something very exotic and difficult, but rich and full of mystery and the belief in another reality, in a reality that we couldn’t see, that we could only imagine, into something that dealt with just what you could see. What you could imagine did not even seem to be a question. I found the banality of it crushing and the shock profoundly disturbing. I think at that point, taking all of those things into account, at some early moment in my life I decided I was going to be an artist.
Reminds me of Mary McCarthy’s romance with her Catholic schooling. There’s also this:
Davis: Did Warhol ruin art?
Scully: No, I don’t think Warhol ruined art because I don’t find Warhol that important. You have to be very important to be able to ruin art.
After the Phillips, the Scully show goes to Fort Worth, Cincinnati, and the Met.