These words — speaking of the evolution and the execution of an idea — hang next to Sean Scully’s painting Angel in the Cantor Museum at Stanford University:
“One of the foremost contemporary abstract painters, Sean Scully has employed elements of shape, color, composition, and light based on observaiton in the natural world to grapple with ideas of spirituality, immateriality, and transcendence. Angel was inspired by an airplane flight that the artist took from PIttsburgh to New York City. He later wrote about the painting:
I was looking at the strange cream, blue-gray color of the clouds, thinking about the sky. I thought of a painting split in half. Drawing and painting. Spirit and body. Idea and physical fact. When I got into New York, I went to the studio the next morning and made the painting. And it arrived in the world made right. One might say it is the result of a flash of insight that took place, in a free and unburdened place. That’s why I love Angel so much, and why it is so clear. A child of air travel.
“Like an angel that has two wings, this painting is a dyptich, that is, it has two panels. Scully uses stripes and lines to establish dichotomies and dualities. Linear black stripes on a white background on one panel are juxtaposed to the other panel of blue/green stripes rendered with highly visible brushstrokes. This painting suggests landscape elements such as barbed wire, ploughed fields, earth, and sky, as well as other abstract associations, such as winter and spring.”