'?there is another image, it's a private one, ambiguous, and perhaps can be sensed rather than seen'. William Scott shifted between figuration and abstraction throughout his career and of all the American Expressionists he felt most of an affinity with Mark Rothko. The two artists shared a sense of being outsiders and Rothko visited Scott in 1959 when he also met Peter Lanyon and Paul Feiler. Scott had left home at 15 following his father's death and lived in Belfast then London, before moving to Brittany. After the outbreak of war Scott served in the army from 1942, in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and then in the Engineer Map Making Department. He visited the Picasso and Matisse exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1945. Although Scott was a Modernist, he always had a strong sense of history and tradition, which could encompass cave paintings in Lascaux, the Italian 'Primitives' and the still lifes of Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin.
After the war Scott became Senior Painting Master at Corsham Court, near Bath, and was joined by the sculptor Kenneth Armitage. He invited the St Ives artists Terry Frost, Bryan Wynter and Lanyon to give lessons. Scott and his contemporaries helped to transform art teaching in Britain, shifting it from the English Impressionism of the Slade School under Wilson Steer, Henry Tonks and Frederick Brown that had influenced an earlier generation.
There is an austerity to Scott's art that he put down to his Presbyterian upbringing and frugal lifestyle. In his abstract and figurative painting Scott examined the relations between form, light, shade and colour. An assignment at Corsham involved students painting the effects of light on white objects. The physical presence of Black, Grey and Blue is created by lighting patches of blue and different shades of black in matte and gloss. The forms float and the dull black ground recedes.
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: Fine Art
: Black, Grey and Blue
: SCOTT, William
: an oil painting
On Display at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Gallery 5
: Given by the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery, 1978 (purchased by them through the Dyer Bequest Fund, 1961).