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BILL SCOTT

A PROLONGED MOMENT


BILL SCOTT



APRIL 23–MAY 30, 2020

BILL SCOTT

A PROLONGED MOMENT

521 WEST 26TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10001


POEM 2019, Oil on canvas, 48 × 66 inches


FOREWORD

As Bill Scott emphatically states, he has “faith in the process” of painting. He is an artist with a true intrinsic calling, evident by his continued dedication, discipline, and painterly evolution. This current group of works which comprise Bill’s eighth solo show with the gallery are filled with energy, luminosity, and viewer accessibility, qualities that have become hallmarks of his oeuvre. With each new offering from his studio we find a recognizable style that has been redefined and slightly altered by a novel and fresh vocabulary. His originality, balance of compositional forms, and masterful handling of color have fostered a highly successful career and yet another exciting and visually stunning body of work. Peppered throughout this catalogue are reflections by Bill about his inspirations and processes. His candor and personal revelations he shares, even the challenging moments, are appreciated. It is always interesting to go beyond the surface to better understand the motivations of the artist, and we applaud his willingness to share one more facet of himself with us. This exhibition also has the added delight of including a group of watercolors. It is a medium that Bill has revisited with amazing results. These jewel-like examples distill the liveliness and exuberance of the larger canvases into a compact scale. We continue to marvel at Bill’s creative spirit. His paintings and watercolors demonstrate an affirmation of beauty and give us the sheer joy of being visually and emotionally enveloped by a work of art. So to the usual self-effacing Bill Scott, we say thank you and well done.

Hollis Taggart Debra Pesci


I first worked with watercolor in a prolonged way in 1989 when spending a few weeks with Joan Mitchell at her home in Vétheuil, France. Each evening she’d hang my new watercolors with the others she’d already pinned to a wall in her studio. She spoke a lot about them with me and helped me to more clearly define my own goals. It may have been my attempt to separate myself from Joan’s influence, but after returning home, I completely stopped working with watercolor. I’m not sure why I stayed away from it for such a long time. A few years ago someone I like very much was starting to paint. I wanted to offer encouragement and sent her a box of watercolors. When buying them at the art supply store, I stopped and thought, “Why don’t I try this again too?” When painting with oils, I’ve always been drawn to a luminosity that can be achieved with thinly painted applications of saturated color on top of a white ground. With the exception of stained glass, I think, watercolor is the medium best able to conjure the most brilliant luminosity. I started painting again with watercolors late last summer. I had no goal. I simply wanted to see where watercolor might lead me at this point in my life. Like the paintings, the watercolors are improvisational and made over the course of a few days or more. None of them are studies for any of my paintings, yet the paintings and watercolors do parallel each other. The imagery in both reference the plants and flowers in my studio as well as the buildings and trees I see from my window.

BEFORE BEFORE WAS 2019, Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 12 × 16 inches A FLEETING DREAM 2019, Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 12 × 16 inches

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I paint an imaginary garden that originates in my remembrances of childhood. My family never had an actual garden, per se. The front and back yards of my childhood home were unkempt and overgrown. Back then someone teased me that it looked as if our house was surrounded by a rainforest. My parents argued a lot with each other and home life could be at times very stressful. The yard seemed like an outside extension of the chaos that existed inside. As a way to escape, I withdrew by drawing and painting images of fictional harmonious places. Although no such place existed in my life, I suppose I was creating visualizations of a relaxed, reflective, and sweet place where I yearned to be. Although that is long in my past, I am aware that I never ever stopped trying to create a painted image of the imaginary paradise where, as a child, I longed to be.

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THE IMAGINARY WORLD 2019, Oil on canvas, 32 × 42 inches

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I enjoy seeing exhibitions and occasionally visiting other artist’s studios. When I was younger I was drawn to paintings that I wished I could have painted myself. Nowadays I am more open to artworks that stylistically are unrelated to the way I work. Selfishly, I love anything that inspires me to return to my own studio and paint. If I hit an impasse, I often go outside and walk. It’s an attempt to clear my mind and see the world as paintable again. Sometimes I end up walking to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I go in, look at two or three things, and walk back home to paint while I feel I know what to do next. A few months ago its curators began reinstalling its galleries of nineteenth-century European art. The artwork is now presented in a more visual way than I ever remember it looking before, and I love being there. Not long ago I read a discouraging interview in which someone proclaimed (because the world is now so technological) that the experience of looking at art in a museum is never again going to be a completely contemplative experience. I understand this yet hope that it will never be my truth. I am always astounded and grateful when seeing a painting that makes me feel as if I am being transported to different places, ideas, emotions, and memories while I’m just standing there completely still. In the past few years I have seen solo exhibitions of younger artists whose paintings make me want to look without talking. For a painting to prompt someone to just look while rendering them speechless is a quality I seek in paintings. It is a power I aspire to achieve in my own work.

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STILL LIFE 2019, Oil on canvas, 42 × 63 inches

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The Eighth Note is a canvas I worked on sporadically for a long time. In my mind, I associate it with my 2017 painting Stillness, which was exhibited in my last exhibition at the gallery. I think the reason I associate the two works is because in the course of painting both I found myself thinking about Aubrey Levinthal’s recent paintings. I am inspired by her differentiated application of paint and her unerring ability to articulate form in a deceptively casual way. I do not know if she or anyone else would see it this way. In the end, they inspire me so it may not be so important for me to figure out why.

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THE EIGHTH NOTE 2019, Oil on canvas, 33 × 27 inches

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When I was young and speaking on the telephone I would make small pencil drawings. If I felt trapped by a conversation, I found myself drawing squares and rectangles. When it was bearable, yet I would still have preferred to escape, I drew triangles. Best of all, when it was a pleasure to be speaking with the other person, I would draw circles. I realized the circles allowed my eyes to pass fluidly across the page, which was less possible with the triangles. The squares were simply static. I think the drawings served as a way to alert me to know how I was feeling even before I was consciously aware of how I felt. Circles have appeared and reappeared in my paintings for a long time. Sometimes, I think of them as placeholders for flowers or another form. A circle can also simply be a way for the painting, or part of it, to remain momentarily afloat. About twenty years ago I began painting two tondo-shaped canvases. It was a challenge, and I soon felt I had embarked on an impossible task. I never had any conscious plan to finish them, but continued working on them off and on for a long time. Several years ago the artist Cindi Ettinger (the master printer with whom I make etchings) showed me her own etchings that she printed on irregular circular and oval shaped pieces of poured plaster. I thought they were beautiful. I think their lingering presence in my mind’s eye was largely what inspired me more recently to again return to painting on tondo-shaped canvases: I wanted to take the circle from being one element within a much larger composition to have it become the entire painted form.

MY FAVORITE KIND OF DAY 2019, Oil on canvas, 20 inches round SPRIG II 2019, Oil on canvas, 20 inches round

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A THIRD TIME 2019, Oil on canvas, 23 × 17 inches

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AN INTERVAL OF SILENCE 2019, Oil on canvas, 38 1/2 × 40 1/2 inches

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I often listen to music when I paint. I see my paintings as parallel to the fleeting, impermanent images I envision in my mind’s eye when hearing music or reading poetry. The music I prefer is narrative and ballad-like and the lyrics tend to be bittersweet. In jest I say I am an abstract painter who listens to representational music. The painting imagery sometimes veers toward representation and other times it is more abstracted. Usually there are elements of both, but the narrative I seek, if indeed there is one, is not to describe an event. I aim instead to have the painting reveal itself slowly and, as it unfolds, for one to be able to intuit how it was made. Unlike a song, a painting does not have a beginning and an ending. Yet a painting, like a song, can linger, unfold, and reverberate long afterward in one’s memory.

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THE IMITATION OF SOUND 2019, Oil on canvas, 58 × 66 inches

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Almost every single time I go into the studio and begin to paint I am certain I no longer remember how to begin. Once I get past that, I begin to paint somewhat arbitrarily. I have no idea how the painting will proceed, but I have tremendous faith in the process. It is an inherently hopeful endeavor. I might draw the partial outline of the split-leaf philodendron in my studio. Or, using a palette knife, I might simply apply a patch of yellow. The painting moves like a pendulum predominately anchored by color or by drawing as well as being reigned over by specificity of detail or by a more fluid open-endedness. I try to prolong the latter. The open-endedness, I believe, is what allows another person to enter the painting and also demands that I remain engaged. An Inherently Hopeful Gesture is a painting where the structure is defined by the color. The longer I work on a painting the more it can become like a drawing. The watercolors I suppose are the works most connected to drawing.

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AN INHERENTLY HOPEFUL GESTURE 2019, Oil on canvas, 39 1/2 × 55 inches

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My father spoke in jest or about beauty when the truth seemed unbearable. I think this is similar to how I paint and use color. I am a hopeful pessimist and the high-key color acts as a buoy to keep me afloat.

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THE OPEN WINDOW 2019, Oil on canvas, 56 × 68 inches

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A WINDOW FACING NORTH 2019, Oil on canvas, 54 × 60 inches

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A Prolonged Moment. I love looking into aquariums and watching fish as they glide, dart around, and sometimes suspend motionlessly in the water. The speed and paths of movement the fish travel within the rectangular shape of the aquarium approximate how I often perceive paintings. My parents died thirty years ago and for a few years prior to that I stopped painting to care for them. When I started again, I painted underwater spaces with fish-like shapes darting and gliding about. One of those first paintings was an almost completely orange painting. I titled it, Lorelei, after Golden Retriever my mother, years earlier, had named. She had taken the name from Heinrich Heine’s 1824 poem about the golden-haired siren whose beauty and singing lured many sailors to their death. Since then I’ve made a number of works that fall, for me, into the on-going series of paintings that metaphorically evoke underwater space and forms. This painting, A Prolonged Moment, and The Third Time are two of these. Their images evoke an underwater garden-like space as much as the title describes the sustained and calm state of mind I require of myself to be able to make paintings.

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A PROLONGED MOMENT 2019, Oil on canvas, 39 1/2 × 55 inches

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BIOGRAPHY

1956 Born in Philadelphia Lives and works in Philadelphia

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2020 Fully Saturated, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

Morris Blackburn and His Legacy: Painter,

2019 The Pierre Hotel, New York

Printmaker, Writer, and Teacher,

2018 Hollis Taggart, New York 2017 Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ Kentucky College of Art + Design, Louisville 2016 Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York Cerulean Arts, Philadelphia

Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ

50th Anniversary Exhibition, Prince Street

Gallery, New York

2019 New Again: Small Works, C. R. Ettinger

Studio Gallery Space, Philadelphia

2014 C. R. Ettinger Studio, Philadelphia

Two by Two, Cerulean Arts, Philadelphia

2013 Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York

Dessins et Estampes du XVI au XX Siècle,

2011 Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York

2010 Albemarle Gallery, London

2009 Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York

2008 Swarthmore College, PA

The Print Center, Philadelphia

Galerie Paul Prouté, Paris

EXCERPTS: C. R. Ettinger Studio, Eckert Art Gallery at Millersville University, PA

Selections from Our Contemporary Collection, Hollis Taggart, New York

2007 Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York

2018 Five at Nine, Hollis Taggart, New York

2006 Albemarle Gallery, London

2017 Grand Strand Collects, Franklin G. Burroughs-

2004 Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York

Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, Myrtle

2002 Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia

Beach, SC

1999 Mulligan-Shanoski Gallery, San Francisco

An Exhibition in Honor of Frances M.

Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia

1997 Prince Street Gallery, New York

Arthur B. Carles and His Expanding Circle: Maguire, Woodmere Art Museum,

Mulligan-Shanoski Gallery, San Francisco

Philadelphia

1996 Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia

Painting: The Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs

Mulligan-Shanoski Gallery, San Francisco

Two Centuries of American Still-Life

1995 Prince Street Gallery, New York

Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,

1994 Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia

TX; Traveled to Memphis Brooks Museum,

1993 Prince Street Gallery, New York

TN and Tacoma Art Museum, WA

1992 Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia

1990 Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia

Philadelphia School of Painting,

1989 Prince Street Gallery, New York

Loaded Brush: The Oil Sketch and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

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Dessins et Estampes du XVI au XX Siècle,

Galerie Paul Prouté, Paris

2016 From the Archives, C. R. Ettinger Studio

2011 Color Study, Asheville Art Museum, NC

Flirting with Abstraction: Selections from

the Collection of Woodmere Art Museum

Gallery Space, Philadelphia

and the Promised Gift of Karen Segal,

Dessins et Estampes du XVI au XX Siècle,

Galerie Paul Prouté, Paris

Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia 2010 One Theme/Thirty Prints: A Collaborative

2015 Fictitious Pleasures: Bill Scott & Alex Kanevsky,

Portfolio, Free Library of Philadelphia

Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition 1970–2010,

Cerulean Arts, Philadelphia

Paper to Paper: Chine Collé, C. R. Ettinger

Studio Gallery Space, Philadelphia

2014 Variations of Line Etching, A Traditional Medium as Used by Contemporary Artists,

Galerie Paul Prouté, Paris

Philadelphia

Resonance of Place: David Brewster, Julian

Hatton, Ying Li, Stanley Lewis, Ruth

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

Miller, Anne Neely, & Bill Scott, Gross

2013 Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Museum, Doylestown, PA

Flight from Nature: The Abstract as Ideal,

Five Artists, Somerville-Manning Gallery,

183rd Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Art, National Academy Museum,

Museum, Philadelphia Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia

Color Wars, Schmidt-Dean Gallery,

Greenville, DE

2008 Color Key, The Painting Center, New York

The National Arts Club, New York

Objects of Desire: Philip Jamison Collection,

McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia

Just In: Recent Acquisitions, Woodmere Art

New York

Dessins et Estampes du XVI au XX Siècle,

C. R. Ettinger Studio Gallery Space, 13 Men: An exhibition of self-portraits,

Prince Street Gallery, New York

2009 Summer Selections, Hollis Taggart Galleries,

New York (Benjamin Altman Award) 2007 Dessins et Estampes du XVI au XX Siècle, Galerie Paul Prouté, Paris

Garden in Winter, Hopkins House Gallery of

Philadelphia

2012 Contemporary Works from the Permanent

2006 10th Anniversary Exhibition, Albemarle

Contemporary Art, Haddon Township, NJ

Collection, Delaware Art Museum,

Gallery, London

Wilmington

A Drawing Show of Artists in Philadelphia

selected by Alex Kanevsky and Bill Scott, The Philadelphia Sketch Club

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SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Naves, Mario. “Currently Hanging: Irresistible Oils,”

Berkson, Bill. “About Bill Scott,” Bill Scott, New York:

New York Observer, May 31, 2004, p. 18.

Prince Street Gallery, 1997.

Naves, Mario. Bill Scott: Recent Works, London:

Berman, Avis. Bill Scott: Looking Through; Recent Oils

Albemarle Gallery, 2010.

and Prints, New York: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2007.

Newhall, Edith. “Galleries: Color Exploring Depth,”

Boyle, Richard. Bill Scott: Process and Continuity,

The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 11, 2016, p. H7.

New York: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2004.

Samet, Jennifer. “Beer with a Painter: Bill Scott,”

Cory, Jim, Tom Csaszar, Vincent Desiderio, Franklin

Hyperallergic, April 9, 2016, hyperallergic.com

Einspruch, Evan Fugazzi, Aubrey Levinthal, Charles

/289572/beer-with-a-painter-bill-scott/.

Stuckey, and William R. Valerio. Bill Scott: Leaf

Scott, Bill. Bill Scott: Recent Paintings, New York:

and Line, New York: Hollis Taggart, 2018. Einspruch, Franklin. “New York: Bill Scott at Hollis Taggart,” Art in America (January 2012).

Scott, Bill. “An Artist’s Thoughts on Abstraction,” Flirting with Abstraction, Philadelphia: Woodmere Art

Finkelstein, Louis. The Paintings of Bill Scott,

Museum, 2011, pp. 4–7.

Philadelphia: Mangel Gallery, 1999.

Sozanski, Edward J. “Art: Heart of Gold,” The Philadel-

Gerdts, William. Two Centuries of American Still-Life

phia Inquirer, June 23, 2013, p. H2.

Painting: The Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs Collection,

Stavitsky, Gail. Matisse and American Art, Montclair:

Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2016, pp. 134–36, 280–81. Lucie-Smith, Edward. Bill Scott, London: Albemarle Gallery, 2006. Mattison, Robert. In Arcadia: Paintings by Bill Scott, New York: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2013. Mir, Stan. “Bill Scott’s Bittersweet Fictions,” Hyperallergic, December 17, 2016, hyperallergic.com /345558/bill-scotts-bittersweet-fictions/. Naar, Harry. Bill Scott: The Landscape in a Still Life. Paintings, Pastels, Prints & Watercolors: 1977–2017, Lawrenceville: Rider University, 2017.

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Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2009.

Montclair Art Museum, 2017, p. 88. Stuckey, Charles. Bill Scott: Recent Work, New York: Prince Street Gallery, 1993. Thornton, John. Bill Scott Painter, video commissioned by the James A. Michener Museum, 5:35 minutes, 2013. Zarobell, John. Bill Scott, New York: Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2011.


SELECTED COLLECTIONS Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock Asheville Art Museum, NC Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw State University, GA British Museum, London Bryn Mawr College, PA Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA Montclair Art Museum, NJ Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Museum of Art, Utica, NY Philadelphia Museum of Art The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia

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This catalogue has been published on the occasion of the exhibition “Bill Scott: A Prolonged Moment” organized by Hollis Taggart, New York, and presented from April 23–May 30, 2020. All Artwork © 2020 Bill Scott Text © Bill Scott ISBN: 978-1-7333303-2-9 Publication © 2020 Hollis Taggart All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited. Hollis Taggart 521 West 26th Street 1st Floor New York, NY 10001 Tel 212 628 4000 Fax 212 570 5786 www.hollistaggart.com Catalogue production: Kara Spellman Copyediting: Jessie Sentivan Design: McCall Associates, New York Printer: Meridian Printing, Rhode Island Photography: Joseph Painter, Wilmington, Delaware Cover: A Prolonged Moment (detail), 2019