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Exploring a New Donation at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

A new exhibition celebrating the recent gift of 25 works from the prestigious Bank of Ireland Collection to the Irish Museum of Modern Art has just opened to the public at IMMA. Exploring a New Donation: Artworks from the Bank of Ireland join the IMMA Collection marks the second major gift by the bank to IMMA in just ten years. In 1999 Bank of Ireland donated 21 works by leading Irish artists to the Museum. Both were Heritage Donations under Section 1003 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. The recent donation includes major works from the period 1940 to 1969, by artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Gerard Dillon, Paul Henry, Louis le Brocquy, Sean McSweeney, Patrick Scott, Camille Souter, Robert Ballagh and others.

The exhibition acknowledges this important gift, and also seeks to reflect its significance in the context of IMMA’s existing Collection, investigating affinities and new perspectives between these earlier works and more contemporary pieces.  An outstanding late Jack B. Yeats painting, Eileen Aroon, 1953, enhances IMMA’s existing collection of Yeats paintings from the 1940s onwards, a number of which are included in this exhibition, along with two fine early canvases. The donation also includes three watercolours by Austrian Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka, with whom Yeats was acquainted, and presents a rare opportunity to view the works of the two artists in proximity.

Yeats’ highly personal interpretation of the Irish landscape and its people, resonated with other artists of the period, including Paul Henry and, to some extent, the younger Gerard Dillon. The exhibition also explores more recent, diverse considerations of the Irish landscape. For example, Michael Craig-Martin’s only film work, Film, 1963, is set in Connemara, a favourite location for many artists of an earlier generation, while Willie Doherty’s Border Incident, 1994, with its implicit theme of surveillance, echoes Robert Ballagh’s Marchers, 1968, and Oisin Kelly’s The Marchers, 1969, both from the Bank of Ireland donation and both the reflecting the civil rights marches of the time.

The Back of Tory Island, 1960, Derek Hill’s largest Tory Island landscape is the first of this artist’s work to enter the IMMA Collection.  Hill is especially associated with Tory where he painted from the 1950s and encouraged what became known as the Tory Island School among the Island’s fishing community. The gift also includes five works by Camille Souter from the 1950s and ‘60s, which are a rich sample of her exploratory painting methods during those years and – together with selected works from the IMMA Collection – provide a concentrated focus on her work of the period.

Autumnal Landscape, 1964, from Patrick Scott’s atmospheric Bog Series of the 1960s and White Road to the Sea, 1965, an early example of Sean McSweeney’s hallucinatory combination of land and sea, are also included in the gift, as is Allegory, 1950, one of the finest of Louis le Brocquy’s early tapestries, brings to 30 the number of works by the artist in IMMA’s Collection in this medium, including the outstanding Táin series.

The Bank of Ireland began its Collection in the 1970s, and went on to create one of the first comprehensive corporate collections to be initiated in Ireland. The importance of the Collection lies in the quality of the individual works, but it also carries unique cultural significance as an important composite collection created during a period of regeneration of visual arts and culture in Ireland. The works have a strong Irish dimension, of the 15 artists represented in this donation 12 are from Ireland or have been long-term residents.

The exhibition is curated by Christina Kennedy, Head of Collections, IMMA, assisted by Marianne Kelly, Assistant Curator: Exhibitions, IMMA.

Exploring a New Donation 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
Monday and Good Friday, 10 April Closed

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

18 March 2009