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Untitled (Window) (detail), 2017, by Sean Scully (American, born Ireland 1945) (Collection of the artist) © Sean Scully
Untitled (Window) (detail), 2017, by Sean Scully (American, born Ireland 1945) (Collection of the artist) © Sean Scully

Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas

April 10–July 31, 2022

Encounter the poetic sensibility and technical virtuosity of one of the leading abstract artists of our time. Sean Scully’s arresting paintings and works on paper, presented here in a comprehensive fifty-year retrospective, explore his signature stripes and reflect the artist’s bold experimentation with scale and composition. From the intimate to the monumental, the works on view stir the spirit and reveal Scully’s tireless dedication to the expressive power of painting.

Main Building

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Preview the Exhibition

Get a sneak peek at works in the exhibition.

About the Artist

Sean Scully (born Dublin, Ireland, 1945) works in the mediums of painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and photography. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Harkness Fellowship. He has been nominated twice for the Turner Prize.

Scully’s works are in a number of private and public collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others.

In 2015 Scully participated in the Venice Biennale with his solo exhibition Land Sea at the Palazzo Falier. For the 2019 Biennale, the artist presented Human, a solo exhibition at the historic Basilica of San Giorgio. He currently splits his time living and working in New York and the Bavarian countryside of Munich.

the artistArtist Sean Scully. Photo by Felix Friedmann © Felix Friedmann Photography


This exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas is made possible by Emily and Mike Cavanagh and Constance and Sankey Williams, with support from the museum’s endowment through the Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, and the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund.

The accompanying publication has been generously supported by Lisson Gallery, which also provided support for the exhibition.


Timothy Rub, George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer; and Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art
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