Irish Art 1920-2020: Perspectives on change
Published by Royal Irish Academy
Number of pages: 448
Irish Art 1920-2020: Perspectives on change edited by Catherine Marshall and Yvonne Scott, is a generously-illustrated book in which eleven authors examine different aspects of Irish art through the hundred years or so since independence. During this time, art in Ireland has borne witness to unprecedented social and political transformation, and this book of essays considers how some of the established perspectives in Irish visual culture were challenged and represented during this time.
Art in Ireland has been shaped by a range of factors – the country’s geographic position, post-colonial history, political upheaval, religious environment – and of course the complex interconnections both within and beyond the country, prompted by shifting patterns within society – identities, migration, technology, for example – as well as the artists’ evolving engagement with the wider world.
This is not a linear story; each chapter explores a particular aspect of art, how it reflected the interests of artists, the environments in which they worked both in Ireland and abroad, and how subjects and methods changed over time. The extensive richness of the last century or so, as well as the diversity, creativity and originality of the artists means that no single text can ever be comprehensive, and this one makes no such claims. Rather, his book, however, is a kind of map; it does not pretend to fully represent the entire narrative but may provide some useful clues to negotiating parts of it, or at least the basis for further exploration and debate.
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"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".
"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."
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.