Happy 100th Birthday William Scott: New Jerwood Gallery Exhibition Announced

William Scott

The Jerwood Gallery in Hastings has announced the opening on 27 April 2013 of a new exhibition ‘William Scott: Divided Figure’. The exhibition celebrates the centenary of the birth of Scott who was born 100 years ago this week. Scott was one of the leading and most influential British painters of the 20th century and a central figure in European and American art. The exhibition is the second in a series of distinctive retrospectives taking place in art galleries across the UK and US throughout 2013. It will focus on Scott’s figure works, both on canvas and on paper, created between 1954-1973 when he was arguably at the height of his artistic career and propelled onto the international art stage.

There are many threads that make up the pattern of Scott’s development as an artist. Still lifes hint at landscapes, landscapes hint at the figure, and at the beginning of the 1950s the figure becomes the still life. The female nude was a recurring and key theme in Scott’s work. Jerwood’s exhibition, William Scott: Divided Figure will highlight the artist’s exploration of the divide between abstraction and figuration, and the developments that took place throughout this crucial phase in his career.

“We are thrilled to be showcasing a range of Scott’s stunning figure works, which were created over a nineteen year period in his career. Many of the works are from private collections and have rarely or, in some cases, never been on public display. An exhibition of this nature would not be possible without the very generous support of private collectors and the William Scott Archive, for which we are extremely grateful.

The Jerwood Gallery’s exhibition will include photographs, exhibition catalogues and archive material generously loaned by the William Scott Archive and screenings of the 1984 film Every Picture Tells a Story, a touching and personal biography of the life of William Scott told by his son, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, James Scott. Centering around Scott’s early years, the film delicately interweaves art and life as seen from the artist’s perspective, incorporating the tenets of abstract expressionism that influenced his work” says, Liz Gilmore, Director of the Jerwood Gallery.

William Scott CBE RA was born on 15 February 1913 in Greenock, Scotland; his artistic career spanned five decades and took him across the globe: from his formative years in Northern Ireland and Cornwall in the mid 30’s, to Italy (1938), France (during and after the war), Canada and the USA (1953 and 1978), Spain (1955), Germany (1963-5) and Japan (1980).

Through his New York gallerist, Martha Jackson (Martha Jackson Gallery), Scott was introduced to Jackson Pollock in 1953 and that summer he also met the leading painters of the New York school: William de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline. At the same time he was assimilating the influence of European painters. In the biographical notes to the Tate Gallery exhibition catalogue (William Scott: Paintings, Drawings and Gouaches 1938-1971, London Tate Gallery, 1972 p. 65), Scott wrote “Continual figure painting made me aware of the great paintings of nudes. The pictures I had in mind amongst the Old Masters were Cranach, Titian, Giorgione, Goya and Boucher and among later paintings, Corot, Manet, Gauguin, Modigliani, Bonnard and Matisse”.

Photo: © James Scott Courtesy of William Scott Foundation

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