By the beginning of 1960s, William Scott was already widely regarded as one of the most important British artists of the period. Throughout the 50s he had exhibited widely in the US, and was considered an integral link between European traditions and the new form of colour field abstract American painting spearheaded by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Hans Hofmann.
‘Yellow Circle (II)’, 1963 is filled with the characteristic painterly qualities of Scott’s work from this period, which placed emphasis on surface texture in contrast to the more minimal compositions of the 1950s. During this period, forms became soft and sensual, floating over the edge of the visible picture plane to evoke a sense of boundless infinity, accentuated in the present work by the fragile nature of the chalk and pastel.
In personal and artistic terms, 1963 proved to be critically important as Scott had a number of important exhibitions including at Whitechapel Gallery in London, Ulster Museum in Belfast and a retrospective at Kunsthalle Bern. In the November of 1963 he embarked on a yearlong residency with the Ford Foundation in West Germany. This resulted in the seminal ‘Berlin Blues’ series of paintings, a major example of which, ‘Berlin Blues 4’ (1965), can now be found in the Tate collection.
His work is held in numerous public collections worldwide including MoMA, New York; Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and Tate, London.