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Between Metaphor and Object: Art of the 90s from the IMMA Collection

An exhibition from the IMMA Collection, featuring sculptures and installation works from the 1990s, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 14 May 2009. Between Metaphor and Object provides new perspectives on the diversity of practices represented in the IMMA Collection from this period, explores its particularities, and considers them in the context of international trends of the decade. Central to the exhibition are a number of key works from the Weltkunst Collection, which is on loan to IMMA since 1994. This significant collection of British sculpture and drawings of the 1980s and ‘90s will return to the Weltkunst Foundation in 2010. The exhibition acknowledges the vision and generousity of this loan. 

The Weltkunst Collection epitomises what is popularly referred to as ‘New British Sculpture’, a term used to describe the quite disparate work of young sculptors who emerged in the late 1970s and ‘80s and who showed renewed interest in using traditional materials after the dominance of Minimalist and Conceptual practices. The principal artists associated with this movement and featured in the exhibition are Barry Flanagan, Shirazeh Houshiary, Anish Kapoor and Alison Wilding. Other key Weltkunst artists included in the exhibition are Avis Newman, Lucia Nogueira, Julian Opie, Jacqueline Poncelet, Rachel Whiteread and Richard Wentworth. Work by Irish artists using a variety of materials include a totemic cast resin sculpture by Eilís O’Connell, a work by Siobhán Haphaska of lacquered fiberglass, basalt and moss playfully pitching the organic with the mass produced and a bronze installation by Michael Warren in homage to Eileen Gray. The exhibition also includes other works of the 1990s  from the IMMA Collection by artists such as Kiki Smith, Ann Hamilton and Maud Cotter whose presence references a central focus of the period on issues of identity, gender and the politics of the body and Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, whose works imply stories which must be imagined by their audience.

Commenting on the exhibition Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections, IMMA, said “Rather than addessing an overarching theme, each of the works in this exhibition operates as a sort of microcosm of each artist’s practice. However, the exhibition title Between Metaphor and Object takes its cue from the figurative and metaphoric imagery and titles of many of the Welkunst works and invites us to consider  how we look at and engage with a work of art. It calls attention to the range of readings that can accrue around a work of art and the idea of the continuous flux that such engagement elicits  between symbolism and objecthood in the mind of the viewer.”

The exhibition reflects the growing prevalence of installation works at the critical forefront of art developments in the 1990s. The international dominance in the ‘90s of interactive art practices that draw on human relations and their social context, termed ‘Relational Art’, is not reflected in the Weltkunst Collection, although noted exponent Douglas Gordon does feature with the work Above all else, 1991. In the context of this exhibition Literally Based on H.Z., 2006, by Liam Gillick, goes on view on the Landing for the first time since its acquisition. Much of the work for this project is based on academic research produced in South America concerning industrial working practices in Scandinavia in the 1970s. The work operates in parallel with Construcción de Uno Gillick’s ongoing open-ended writing project about the notion of continued production in a post-industrial landscape, where the former workers return to their now abandoned experimental factory to revisit the progressive models of production that led to their subsequent redundancy. Austrian artist Heimo Zobernig was also involved in the making of the installation.

Between Metaphor and Object is co-curated by Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections, IMMA, and Marguerite O’Molloy, Assistant Curator: Collections, IMMA.

Between Metaphor and Object continues until 4 April 2010.
Litterally Based on H.Z., 2006, by Liam Gillick, continues until 27 September 2009.

Admission is free.

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10.00am – 5.30pm
except Wednesday 10.30am – 5.30pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 12noon – 5.30pm
Culture Night: Friday 25 September open until 11.00pm
Mondays Closed

For further information and images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel: +353 1 612 9900, Email: [email protected] 

12 May 2009

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.