William Scott 1913 - 1989


Martha Jackson
Private Collection, USA


Having returned from a brief essay into abstraction in the early 1950’s Scott had, to a large extent, concentrated for much of the rest of the decade on the still-life subject of his early career.
However, as the paintings developed, the objects themselves became less and less important, their forms becoming increasingly simplified and distorted, and their importance lying in their use as formal compositional elements. Freed from a need to keep the recognisable form of the object, Scott became ever more willing to use each one a vehicle for textural diversity, either heightening a colour contrast with the brushwork, or in some paintings using the paint handling itself to delineate forms within a like-coloured background. Similarly the setting of the image could be manipulated, with the suggested planes of a still life composition becoming an equally weighted element in the image.
Thus, the present work, painted only two years after Blue Still Life No.2, has broken down the recognisable elements of a still life to such an extent that it appears at first sight to be entirely abstract. However, closer inspection begins to suggest the line of the edge of the table dividing the picture plane and the vestiges of the familiar forms of cup and pan floating across the surface. By removing their obvious connotations, the forms were released by the artist to act as simple signifiers and mark a path forward towards the full abstraction Scott would achieve in the early 1960’s.