Retrospective of work of distinguished British painter

A retrospective of the work of influential British artist William Scott (1913-1989) opens at the Jerwood Gallery on April 27.

William Scott: Divided Figure celebrates the centenary of the birth of Scott, one of the leading British painters of the 20th century and a central figure in European and American art.

The exhibition is the second in a series of retrospectives taking place in art galleries across the UK and USA throughout 2013.

It will focus on Scott’s figure works, both on canvas and on paper, created between 1954 and 1973 when he was arguably at the height of his artistic career and propelled onto the international art stage.

Liz Gilmore, director of the Jerwood Gallery, said: “We are thrilled to be showcasing a range of Scott’s stunning figure works, which were created over a 19-year period in his career.

“Many of the works are from private collections and have rarely or, in some cases, never been on public display. An exhibition of this nature would not be possible without the very generous support of private collectors and the William Scott Archive, for which we are extremely grateful.”

The exhibition will include photographs, exhibition catalogues and archive material and screenings of the 1984 film Every Picture Tells a Story.

This film is a biography of the life of William Scott told by his son, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, James Scott.

William Scott CBE RA was born in Greenock, Scotland; his artistic career spanned five decades and took him across the globe: from his formative years in Northern Ireland and Cornwall in the mid 30s, to Italy (1938), France (during and after the war), Canada and the USA (1953 and 1978), Spain (1955), Germany (1963-5) and Japan (1980).

Through his New York gallerist, Martha Jackson (Martha Jackson Gallery), Scott was introduced to Jackson Pollock in 1953 and that summer he also met the leading painters of the New York school: William de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline.

At the same time he was assimilating the influence of European painters.

In the biographical notes to the Tate Gallery exhibition catalogue (William Scott: Paintings, Drawings and Gouaches 1938-1971, London Tate Gallery, 1972 p. 65), Scott wrote: “Continual figure painting made me aware of the great paintings of nudes.

“The pictures I had in mind amongst the Old Masters were Cranach, Titian, Giorgione, Goya and Boucher and among later paintings, Corot, Manet, Gauguin, Modigliani, Bonnard and Matisse”.

Robert Scott, the artist’s eldest son and director of the William Scott Foundation, said: “It is our hope that this year-long celebration will give this generation the opportunity to appraise the extraordinary body of work created by William Scott over five decades, and secure his reputation as one of the leading British painters of the 20th century.”