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Untitled (1959)


Whites marks a point in Scott’s career when his painting assumed a high degree of abstraction. The work has a powerful sense of formality and restraint and represents the reduction of the still-life elements in his work to their simplest form. The picture is created by using subtle gradations of white and taut outlines to suggest the underlying shapes of domestic objects. The minimalist form of the work and the concentration on a single colour show, in part, Scott’s response to the work of Rothko. In the early months of 1964, when Whites was painted, Scott was working in Berlin as a Ford Foundation Artist-in-Residence. At that time he was experimenting with the placing of shapes at the edge of the canvas, an idea deriving from his Altnagelvin mural of 1958-61. During the 1960s Scott developed an austere form of abstraction based on pure forms and a sensuous handling of paint. As his work became more abstract so his brushwork came to play a greater role in heightening the expressive power of his painting. Later in his career he moved between abstraction and figurative painting and produced a remarkable series of nudes based on his deep admiration for Bonnard.