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Irish Art 1920-2020: Perspectives on change

by  Catherine MarshallYvonne Scott
€ 40.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

May 2022


Number of pages: 448

ISBN: 9781911479826


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Coming in September.

This book examines Irish art over the last hundred and twenty years or so, from 1900 to now, considering key examples and developments and how visual expression can be read for what it reflects and reveals of art and society during this time.

Art in Ireland was peculiarly shaped on one hand by the country’s geographic isolation, political upheaval, religious repression and its post-colonial history, and on the other by the interconnections with the world as a consequence of factors, including diaspora, location (between Europe and America), and cultural aspirations. Alongside all the changes that a maturing state, relative prosperity, and a regular flow of intercommunications with the outside world brought, there were two key developments that responded to the growing interest in and confidence in the visual arts, and that led ultimately to the idea for this book: the foundation of IMMA in 1991; and the establishment of an educational environment dedicated to, rather than simply including, Irish art, formalised with the establishment of a more focused teaching and research on Irish art at all levels.


"The ideas of nation and state, of identity and citizenship which were so dramatically contested in Ireland during the 20th century, are still in negotiation in the 21st. It is timely, therefore, for such thoroughly researched and, crucially, fresh perspectives on the visual arts in Ireland, over that formative period, to be published by the Royal Irish Academy. [...] Irish Art 1920 – 2020 is not only a landmark publication of the work so far, it is also nourishment for the work to come in this endeavour". 
Declan McGonagle, director of the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

"Insular and global, local and diasporic, mythic grandeur and a touch of blarney, the international reception of Irish culture has been dominated for the last century by the literary legacies of James Joyce and William Butler Yeats. This wonderful book sets out to balance the record with a capacious survey of the art and visual culture of Ireland, ranging across painting, sculpture, arts and crafts, vanguards, rearguards, and New Media. Ireland’s unique position as a postcolonial paradigm, emerging from centuries of imperial domination, holds lessons for revolutionary nation-building in places as diverse as Palestine and Ukraine. Its unique status as a bastion of European civilization, an outpost of resistance to English insularity, is here made visible in a compelling survey of the best that has been shown and seen in Irish visual culture across a momentous century".
W.J.T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago; Senior Editor, Critical Enquiry.

"A landmark in the histories of Irish art. Generously illustrated with iconic works from a wide range of media, this book will be read avidly by academics and the broader public alike who are exploring the role of art production and criticism during a transformative century of Irish societal and political change". 
Dr Karen Brown, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Museum and Gallery Studies, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

"Realized in the context of centenary celebrations, this volume achieves something remarkable. It shows that artists, who were among those called to imagine the new nation, conjured everything but orthodoxy: multiple visions reflecting both localized experiences and emigration; art and design practices engaging in intermedial (ex)change; ever shifting conceptualizations, critical and institutional frames; inclusions and exclusions; and various border-crossings. And if art wasn’t a static, celebratory tool, this book also evidences that art history isn’t monolithic. Irish art history emerges here in transhistorical, thematic essays as a broad, vibrant field in which so much can coexist: not just a century of change, but 400 pages of it, too". 
Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History, University of Amsterdam.

About the authors

Catherine Marshall

Catherine Marshall is a curator and art historian. She lectured in art history at Trinity College Dublin, the National College of Art and Design and University College Dublin. As founding head of collections at the Irish Museum of Modern Art she curated exhibitions of outsider art from the Musgrave Kinley Collection, exhibitions of Irish art in China, USA and the UK and throughout Ireland with the IMMA National Programme, and was curator to the Engagement project, which brought together artists from the Kilkenny Collective for Arts Talent, Callan, with artists from widely differing mainstream practices for a series of exhibitions 2013–21. She co-edited Art and architecture of Ireland, vol. 5, Twentieth century (2014) and Janet Mullarney (2019). She is an active member of Na Cailleacha (Na In 2019 she was recipient of the first honorary doctorate in the History of Art from University College Dublin.

Yvonne Scott

Yvonne Scott is a fellow emeritus at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin. She was the founding director of TRIARC (Trinity College Irish Art Research Centre), and an Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture there. Her research focuses particularly on modern and contemporary art, specialising in the representation of landscape, nature and environment, and she has published extensively in the field. She has hosted numerous symposia on themes such as eco-criticism, including ‘In this brief time: art, environment and ecology’, and convened the visual art section of the Art in the Anthropocene conference at Trinity College Dublin, June 2019. She has served on several boards in the university, as well as in public art institutions and galleries. She was Chair of the Advisory Board, and contributor to Art and architecture of Ireland, vol. 5, Twentieth century (2014), and to Modern Ireland in 100 artworks (2016).