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IMMA and Business to Arts join forces to celebrate corporate collecting
An exhibition celebrating 20 years of the organisation Business to Arts, and the visual art collections of its members, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 30 April 2008. 10,000 to 50: Contemporary Art from the Members of Business to Arts reflects the collecting and support of the Irish private and public sector for contemporary visual art in Ireland over two decades. It includes exciting examples of Irish-based visual art practice, as well as documenting the commissioning of artworks and ongoing corporate support at community, national and international levels for the presentation and promotion of contemporary art.
Over 10,000 artworks from the collections of Business to Arts’ member companies were considered from which a final selection of 50 was made. Most of the works are by Irish or Irish-based artists and largely comprise paintings, works on paper and sculpture, reflecting the prevailing tendency of corporate collectors towards more traditional forms of presentations. There is, nonetheless, a rich variety within these familiar media – in, for example, the juxtaposition of nature and urban culture in Blaise Drummond’s Island Painting No.1, 2005, and Oliver Comerford’s Line In, 1999; in Elizabeth Magill’s use of landscape as a device for emotional reflection in Forest Edge 2, 2000, and in Hope Painting – A Journey without Moving, 2005, William McKeown’s exploration of the atmospheric aspects of nature. Sculptures include Corban Walker’s architectonic glass structure Grid Stack 1/6, 2007, Mariele Neudecker’s fiberglass and plastic landscape Another Million Days and Night Go By, 2002, and Janet Mullarney’s totemic life-size figure, Untitled, 1988.
There is also a number of significant photographic works including Gerard Byrne’s view of the Gate Theatre’s stage with Louis le Brocquy’s famous set for Waiting for Godot; Amanda Coogan’s still from her performance piece Reading Beethoven, 2004, and Willie Doherty’s Grey Day 4, 2007, among others. Although fewer in number, the exhibition presents some notable mixed media and audio visual pieces, such as John Gerrard’s new media work, Smoke Tree V, 2006, displayed on a specially-made computer screen, and the mixed-media installation, Untitled, 2003, by Peter Maybury and Mark McLoughlin.
Although, in keeping with the 20th anniversary, the exhibition focuses on artworks produced in the last 20 years, the artists cover a wide age range. It is intriguing to see early works by younger artists, and to reflect on how their practice subsequently developed and how early patronage may well have played a part in this development.
The selection also includes works by Declan Clarke, Maud Cotter, Gary Coyle, Dorothy Cross, Mark Francis, Patrick Graham, Tjibbe Hooghiemstra, Ronnie Hughes, John Kingerlee, Ciaran Lennon, Mary Lohan, Stephen Loughman, Isobel Nolan, Kathy Prendergast, Nigel Rolfe, Patrick Scott and many others. A specially commissioned new artwork, a photographic ‘portrait’ of the workplace by Irish artist Ronan McCrea, is also being shown.
As well as providing audiences with the opportunity of experiencing artworks that are often behind the scenes in corporate settings, the exhibition aims to inspire enduring relationships between the business community, IMMA, and Irish and international contemporary artists, by introducing a wider business public to the excitement and rewards of supporting contemporary art. By collecting art, and especially by commissioning artists to make new work within the workplace and beyond, companies encourage innovation and creative entrepreneurship. This exhibition seeks to acknowledge those who have already supported the arts and to encourage companies to draw on the ideas and creativity of contemporary art and to support artists in society.
10,000 to 50 is jointly curated by Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections, IMMA; Karen Sweeney, Assistant Curator: Exhibitions, IMMA, and Jenny Haughton, independent curator.
A series of talks, events and projects, both curator and artist-led, examing the potential for artworks in new situations and corporate support of more ephemeral art projects, will take place during the exhibition.
A publication, with texts by Christina Kennedy and art critic Gemma Tipton, reflects on the nature of corporate support of the visual arts and the ways by which companies acquire and commission artworks, and includes a documentation of Ronan McCrea’s new artwork.
10,000 to 50 continues until 4 August 2008.
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