Tate British Artists: William Scott
The inaugural title in the reformatted British Artists series, William Scott is a comprehensive introduction to the life and work of the important British abstract painter. After studying at Belfast College of Art and the Royal Academy schools in London, Scott began his painting career in 1946 whilst teaching at Bath Academy of Art, concentrating on still-lifes of pots and saucepans, eggs, fishes and bottles on a bare kitchen table. He chose these objects simply because they provided contrasting shapes that he could arrange against simple backgrounds, often to elegant effect. By 1951 however, the forms had begun to take on a life of their own, sometimes as metaphors of erotic encounters between male and female. Some of his works of 1952 - 4 became completely abstract. This phase of Scott's work came to an end partly as a result of a visit in 1953 to the USA, where he met Pollock, Rothko and Kline. He felt that he belonged to the European tradition of Chardin, Cezanne and Bonnard, and this led to a return to a more representational style.
Gradually, however, he moved again towards abstraction but continuing to use still-life subjects as the starting point for otherwise self-sufficient formal relationships. Of international renown, Scott represented Britain in the 1958 Venice Biennale, and has been the subject of many shows all around the world, including a major retrospective at Tate in 1972.