The birth of Modernism 1920-60

GERARD DILLON GIRL AT THE WELL oil on board 25.4×35.5cm

 

After climbing the wide, richly carpeted stairs in Dublin Castle and noting the large paintings of colonising worthies on the walls, followed by smaller images of nationalising ones in the hall, it is relaxing to enter the State Apartments and see an exhibition of mainly domestic-sized paintings from private collections. The very idea of such an exhibition was inspired. This art was made by people who contributed in a lasting way to the Ireland emerging after the Great War and before we joined the European Economic Community. Different in outlook and achievements to King George IV and Lord Aberdeen or to Douglas Hyde and Seán T Ó’Ceallaigh whose likenesses we passed, the artists on view can be seen as unintentionally inscribing in their own visual language a chapter in the history of Ireland. With a strong northern contingent, figurative painting predominates in curator David Britton’s personal but quite representative selection. There is just one work by each artist and the engagements with modernism by both formally educated and self-taught artists make interesting viewing.

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