Sean Scully was born in Ireland and brought up in London, where his family had settled in 1949. He was educated at Croydon College of Art (1965-1968) and went on to do a master's degree at Newcastle University (1968-1972). He was awarded a grant to study at Harvard in 1972 and there he became increasingly interested in American Minimalism. Since then he has divided his time between London and New York, teaching at the Chelsea School of Arts and Goldsmiths' School of Art in London (1973-1975) and at Princeton (New Jersey, 1977-1983). In 1983 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Artist's Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and became a US citizen. Just one year before he had introduced emotive elements into his painting and left Minimalism behind conceptually. In 1989 there was a major retrospective of his work at museums in London, Munich and Madrid, and the following year it was the subject of a monograph by Maurice Poirier. In 1992 he worked in Morocco on a documentary about Henri Matisse for the BBC, and in 1994 he set up a studio in Barcelona, where he often comes to spend time. In 1995 he had a major new retrospective at museums in Washington, Atlanta, Barcelona (Fundació "la Caixa"), Dublin and Frankfurt. Over the last decade his work has been constantly on show at international museums and he has become one of the fundamental figures of contemporary abstraction.