Scully was born in Dublin, Ireland, but moved with his family to England in 1949. There he studied art first in Croydon and later at Newcastle University and at Harvard University in the United States. He settled in New York City in 1975 and became an American citizen in 1983.
Scully's paintings are often made up of a number of panels, and are abstract. Most of his pieces feature stripes and in some alternating areas of vertical and horizontal stripes are arranged in a chessboard pattern. Scully paints in oils, sometimes laying the paint on quite thickly to create textured surfaces.
Scully was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1989 and 1993. He has exhibited widely in Europe and the United States: including exhibitions at the Kunstammlung Nordeim Westfalen in Dusseldoerf, Germany, (2001); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (2000); the Milwaukee Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, and Albright-Knox Gallery (1998–99); Galeria Arte Moderna, Villa delle Rose in Bologna, and Galerie National de Jeu de Paumme in Paris (1996). He recently donate eight of his paintings to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, the gallery is currently building an extension which will include a dedicated Sean Scully room.
Works in collections
- The Guggenheim Museum, New York
- The Art Institute of Chicago.
- Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C.
- The Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco;
- Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
- Tate Modern, London
- The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
- The Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin, including
- Nagoya City Art Museum, Japan.