The best known exponent of abstraction to come from Northern Ireland
William Scott (1913-1989) is the best known exponent of abstraction to come from Northern Ireland. He was born of Scots-Irish parents and was brought to Enniskillen in 1924. He went to Belfast College of Art in 1928 and in 1931 went to the Royal Academy Schools, London. After his marriage in 1937 he lived abroad, mostly in France.
Scott’s development as an artist followed the normal route of moving from naturalism towards abstraction. Influenced by artists like Cézanne, Mondrian and Picasso, his simple and persistent subject matter of kitchen still lives and figures were distilled to an presence of line, colour and shape. The artist was senior lecturer in painting from 1941 until 1956 at the Bath Academy of Art.
He visited the USA and met Jackson Pollock, de Kooning, Kline and Rothko. Essentially a still life painter, Scott’s work underwent a radical reduction in relation to colour and form and he was greatly influenced by his contact with the American Abstract Expressionists. A retrospective of his work was held at the Tate Gallery, London in 1972 and in 1998 a major retrospective was organised by the Irish Museum of Modern Art.