William Scott CBE RA (1913-89) was a key figure in European and American art and is considered one of the most influential British painters of the 20th Century. To mark the centenary of his birth, the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath – Scott’s home city for most of his life – is holding a major loan exhibition.Featuring over 50 paintings, sculptures and drawings, Simplicity and Subject emphasizes Scott’s Somerset connections and highlights the unique exchange in his work between urban and rural life. Scott settled in Somerset in 1941 and lived at Hallatrow and Coleford, working for ten years as Senior Painting Master at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham Court.
Councillor Ben Stevens, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Scott was a local artist, with international significance, and it is our hope that this exhibition – created especially by Bath & North East Somerset Council – will serve to strengthen that message further, and open up his works for a new audience to appreciate.”
Featuring many works not previously seen in public, this unique exhibition covers all phases and themes of Scott’s career, from the nude to landscape, still life and the abstract. In collaboration with the William Scott Foundation, the exhibits will be drawn from major collections across the UK as well as from public bodies including Arts Council England and National Museum of Wales.
The Victoria Art Gallery’s relationship with Scott began in the mid-1940s when it exhibited his pictures in the annual Bath Society of Artists exhibitions. In 1984 the Gallery purchased a collage for its collection direct from the artist. This was followed in 2012 by an oil painting, Bottle and Fish Slice, acquired with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Jon Benington, Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery, said: “Drawing inspiration from his own experience of working class life, Scott strove for the utmost simplicity of expression. The result was a unique language that pushed the connections of abstraction and figuration. Befriended and respected by fellow artists of the calibre of Mark Rothko and Patrick Heron, Scott was equally at ease chatting to livestock breeders and ex-miners.”
The exhibition has been guest curated by Professor Mike Tooby of Bath Spa University, who also wrote the main essay for the catalogue. Financially supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, it will be accompanied by a full events programme including film shows, weekly tours and a one-off illustrated, ‘virtual’ talk by the artist – further details to be announced.
The Victoria Art Gallery, near Pulteney Bridge in Bath, is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm and closed on Monday. Admission to the William Scott exhibition (7 September-17 November) is £3.50 (children under 16 free). For more details call 01225 477233, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Gallery’s website www.victoriagal.org.uk.