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1945
Born in Dublin, Ireland
 
1949
Family emigrates to London
 
1960
Apprentices in a commercial printing shop in London and joins a graphic design studio
 
1962-65
Attends evening classes at the Central School of Art, London with an interest in figurative painting
 
1965-68
Studies painting at the Croydon College of Art, London
 
 
1968-1972
Bachelor of Arts at Newcastle University, England with First Class Honours, remains as a teaching assistant. Also teaches one day a week at the Sunderland College of Art. Creates large scale paintings composed of a complicated intersecting line and grid system resulting in an multilayered optical field
 
1969
Travels to Morocco. The stripes and colours of local textiles and the southern light makes a deep impression.
 
1972-1973
Makes first visit to America as recipient of John Knox Fellowship with a residency at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Experiments with new techniques and exhibits new works upon return to London
 
1973
First major solo exhibition at the Rowan Gallery, London. Show sells out
 
1973-1975
Holds teaching positions at Chelsea School of Art and Design and Goldsmith’s College of Art and Design, London
 
1975
Emigrates to the United States
 
1977
First New York solo exhibition at the Duffy-Gibbs Gallery
 
1978-1982
Adjunct professor at Princeton University, New Jersey
Develops important friendships and contacts in the academic and art world
 
1980
Travels to Mexico. Inspired by the trip, begins using watercolor to transcribe the experience of colour and light directly onto paper
 
1981
First retrospective at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England. The exhibition travels within the United Kingdom under the auspices of the Arts Council of Great Britain. Stops work on Minimalist series. Stops taping stripes and starts painting them freehand. Brushstrokes become clearly visible. Color and space return. Color is explored extensively through layering and over-painting.
Completes the large (20 ft, 11 panel) manifesto painting Backs and Fronts, 1981
 
1982
Summer residency at the Edward Albee artists’ colony in Montauk, Long Island where he produces small composite works on found panels, piecing together disparate shapes and thickness to create architectural paintings.
Back in New York, paints first mature work, the triptych Heart of Darkness combining rigid geometry with expressive texture and color
 
1983
Becomes an American Citizen. Receives a Guggenheim Fellowship
 
1984
Awarded an NEA Artist's Fellowship. International breakthrough, marked by his inclusion in the MOMA’s group exhibition An international survey of recent paintings and sculptures
 
1985
First solo exhibition in an American museum: Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. Major museums begin to acquire his large-scale Modernist paintings at a time when Postmodernism was the big trend. The paintings become more physical, architectural and aggressive
 
1987
Adds new body of work to include less complex, flatter and smaller scale paintings. First use of the inset technique - embedding a small canvas into a larger one
1987-1990
Visits Mexico multiple times. Works on paper show influence of new sources of visual stimuli
 
1988
Steel is introduced into the paintings
 
1989
First solo exhibition and tour in a European museum. Exhibition travels from the Whitechapel Gallery, London to Palacio Velázquez, Madrid, and Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
Shortlisted for the Turner Prize, alongside Paula Rego, Lucian Freud and Richard Long
 
1992
Revisits Morocco in December to make a film on Matisse for the BBC
 
1993
Shortlisted a second time for the Turner Prize, alongside Hannah Collins, Vong Phaophanit and Rachel Whiteread
Catherine Paintings exhibited for the first time at The Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, Texas
 
1994
New studio in Barcelona, Spain
 
1999
New studio in Chelsea, New York
 
2000
Made an Honorary Member of the London Institute of Arts and Letters.
 
2002-07
Professor of painting at Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich, Germany
 
2003
Receives Honorary Degrees, Doctorate of Fine Arts from The Massachusetts College of Art, Boston and the National University of Ireland, Dublin 
 
2005-06
Sean Scully Wall of Light exhibition and tour at The Phillips Collection, Washington DC; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York
 
2006
Dublin City Gallery/ The Hugh Lane, Dublin, opens the Sean Scully Gallery, a permanent installation of paintings by the artist
 
2007
Marries painter Liliane Tomasko
 
2007-08
Sean Scully A Retrospective exhibition and tour at Miro Foundation, Barcelona; Musée d’Art Moderne, Sainte-Etienne, and Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (MACRO), Rome.
Awarded Honorary Degree, Doctor Honoris Causa, Universitas Miguel Hernandez, Valencia.
Elson Lecture at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C
 
2009
Retrospective exhibition and tour Konstantinopel oder die versteckte Sinnlichkeit. Die Bilderwelt von Sean Scully (Constantinople or the Sensual Concealed. The Imagery of Sean Scully) at MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg and Ulster Museum, Belfast
Son Oisín is born
 
2010
Tour of important early works: Works from the 1980s at VISUAL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow and Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds.
Awarded Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters by Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
Currently lives  and works in New York, Barcelona and outside Munich