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Sean Scully (Irish, b.1945)


Also known as:  Skully, Sean

Birth Place: Dublin (County Dublin, Leinster, Ireland)


Sean Scully is an Irish painter and printmaker whose hick, lustrous oil paintings are instantly recognizable to even casual art fans. Born in Dublin, Scully originally apprenticed at a commercial printing shop as a typesetter. As a 20-year-old, Scully was famously rejected by eleven different art schools until he eventually was accepted at the Croydon College of Art. He pursued a graduate fellowship at Harvard and later settled in New York City during the 1970s.

His work in oil paintings eventually got him two nominations for the Turner Prize, a prestigious British award for visual artists under the age of 50. Since then, the art world has embraced Sean Scully’s unique style and vision. His work is in the permanent collection at famous private and public galleries around the world, including the Guggenheim, MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. His abstract paintings are often layered, creating multi-textured surfaces that seem to almost jump off the canvas. 

What type of art does Sean Scully make?

Sean Scully is a painter and printmaker who has been nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize twice in his career. His work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, MOMA, The National Art Gallery, and the Smithsonian (among many others). His paintings are abstract and are often painted with thick layers of oil to create multi-textured surfaces. 

How often do Sean Scully paintings come up for auction?

Sean Scully's paintings come up frequently at auction. Currently, there are over a dozen paintings either about to come up for auction or have recently been auctioned. His work is currently experiencing a renaissance with many of his pieces selling for well over a million dollars. His distinct style is popular with both institutions and private collectors, making his paintings extremely popular. 

How much is a Sean Scully painting worth?

There is a wide range of prices that a Sean Scully painting can command at auction. That being said, Sean Scully’s work is routinely on lists of the most expensive paintings bought at auction every single year. In 2018 Landline Red Veined (2016) sold for $1,500,000. While occasionally a lesser work can be had for thousands, typically Scully’s paintings sell in the seven-digit range. 

Which Sean Scully painting is the most valuable? 

The most valuable Sean Scully painting on record at auction is Landline Red Veined (2016). It was sold for $1,515,000 in 2018. There are numerous other paintings that have been sold in this range including Grey Red (2012) which was sold for $1,433,000. This also doesn’t take into account that many of Scully’s most famous work is in the collections of famous institutions around the world, and won’t come up for auction any time soon. 

What are the most famous paintings by Sean Scully? 

Some of Sean Scully’s most famous pieces of art are Wall of Light Desert Night (1999), Standing II (1986), and East Coast Light I (1973). Scully is famous for his deep, lustrous use of oil paints which are a mix of resin, oil, turps, and varnish. These paintings all exhibit those qualities, as well as the rich colors and textures that this technique produces. He has numerous works on display in collections both public and private all over the world -- from the most prestigious galleries to the best-curated collections. 

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