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Minister Brennan Announces IMMA’s Programme for 2008

An exhibition of Mexican Modernist art, including works by its most famous exponents  Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; a large-scale show drawn from the collections of Ireland’s  business community; a variety of new perspectives on the Museum’s own Collection, and new projects promoting youth access and online learning are all part of a rich and varied programme for 2008 at the Irish Museum of Modern Art announced today (Thursday 24 January) by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr Séamus Brennan, TD. Plans for the coming year also include solo exhibitions by leading artists from Ireland, Germany, Spain, America and Mexico; a multi-faceted show inspired by the shadow theatre tradition of Turkey and Greece, and an exhibition from IMMA’s Collection exploring what happens when artworks are shown in different contexts.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Minister Brennan said that visitors to IMMA could look forward to being delighted, amused and challenged over the coming year. “Following the extraordinarily successful Lucian Freud exhibition last year, the exhibition from the prestigious Gelman Collection in Mexico, with major works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, will again attract a wide cross section of visitors, while the line-up of artists presenting solo exhibitions continues to offer gallery-goers the very best in contemporary Irish and international practice. The growth in the Museum’s role as an ambassador for the Irish arts abroad also continues apace, with a total of 152 works from IMMA’s Collection currently on show in San Sebastian and Valencia in Spain, and at the Irish Embassy in The Hague. In May, a selection of works by five artists in the Collection will be shown as part of the LOOP 2008 festival of video art in Barcelona, and will later travel to Casablanca, Lyon and Beijing.”

The Minister went on to say that he was particularly pleased to announce a further expansion of IMMA’s education and community activities. “IMMA new initiative for young people demonstrates its continuing awareness of the need to reach out to new audiences, an area in which the Museum has led the way for many years. The fact that this and another project promoting online learning, is being carried out in association with several European partners again underlines the important position which IMMA has attained internationally.”

“I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the remarkable advances which the Museum has made in so many different areas in recent years. Of course for a publicly-funded institution, no amount of artistic excellence is quite complete without a commensurate response from the public, and I am pleased to note that where IMMA is concerned people have voted with their feet, taking visitor numbers to a historic high of 485,000 in 2007. An extensive visitor survey, commissioned by the Museum last year, showed an overwhelmingly positive reaction to what IMMA has to offer, with 82% of visitors saying that they would definitely or probably visit again and a remarkable 92% saying they would definitely or probably recommend a visit to others.”

Commenting on the programme for the coming year, IMMA Director Enrique Juncosa said: “I am very happy that we have again put in place a very wide range of activities for 2008, from major exhibitions and publications to lectures and symposia, schools and family programmes and artists residencies. I would like to highlight the exhibition of works from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican modern art, which includes well known masterpieces by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; the survey of the African work of the Spanish painter Miquel Barceló, and the exhibition of Irish contemporary art from corporate collections in Ireland, organised with the help of Business2Arts and the very welcome support of Anglo Irish Bank, KPMG, The IrishTimes and Image Now. This year we will also be presenting quite a number of group shows, including a joint presentation of the little known but fantastic artworks by writers Hans Christian Andersen and William Burroughs and an exhibition by contemporary artists working in animation.”


The 2008 temporary exhibition programme gets underway on 6 February with a retrospective of the complete photographic work of the American-born artists McDermott & McGough. An Experience of Amusing Chemistry: Photographs 1990 – 1890 comprises some 120 works created using a wide range of historic photographic techniques, whose reinvention causes a ghostly displacement of time characteristic of all McDermott & McGough’s work. This is followed on 27 February by an eagerly-anticipated exhibition spanning the entire career of the highly regarded Irish artist Cecil King, who died in 1986. Comprising some 50 works, it concentrates on the hard edge paintings for which he was particularly well known.

The first survey show in this country of the work of Jack Pierson, one of America’s most inventive and evocative artists, can be seen from 12 March. The exhibition features photographs, drawings and installations, as well as the artist’s renowned word sculptures, all infused with Pierson’s customary references to lost love, faded glamour and sentimental musings. Another leading international figure being shown for the first time in Ireland is the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló, an exhibition of whose paintings, drawings and sculptures inspired by frequent stays in West Africa goes on show on 26 June. The coming year will also feature solo exhibitions by two innovative young artists: Ulla von Brandenburg from Germany and Janaina Tschäpe from Brazil, who will present their first Irish shows from 28 May and 25 June respectively.

From 5 November the Museum will present paintings, watercolours and drawings by the prominent Irish artist William McKeown, whose monochrome works defined by their highly-finished surfaces explore the delicate qualities of nature. McKeown’s meticulous use of colour and light has resulted in works which, while remaining subtle and restrained, reflect the epic beauty of the natural world.

A strong feature of the 2008 programme is the number and variety of group shows. Beginning on 9 April Cut-Outs and Cut-Ups focuses on the visual arts practice, which included cut-out images, silhouettes and stencils, of two legendary writers – Hans Christian Andersen, born in Denmark in 1805 and known the world over for his fairytales, and William Seward Burroughs, born in the US in 1914 and best known for his ground-breaking novels, including the acclaimed Naked Lunch published in 1959.

Celebrating 20 years of Business2Arts, 10,000 to 50: Contemporary Art from the Members of Business2Arts opens on 30 April. Featuring many exciting examples of Irish-based practice, the exhibition reflects the collecting and support of the Irish business community for the visual arts in Ireland over two decades. The 50 works in the show were selected from an initial list of 10,000 compiled from the collections of Business2Arts members. The exhibition, organised by IMMA’s Collection Department, is supported by a number of leading companies – Anglo Irish Bank, KPMG, The Irish Times and Image Now. The Irish Times, which has been a major sponsor of the Museum for several years, is also supporting the Kahlo/Rivera exhibition.

Opening on 23 July, Order, Desire, Light comprises some 250 works on paper by a wide range of leading contemporary artists from a single private collection. The exhibition demonstrates the continuing relevance of drawing, presenting many different approaches while highlighting the experimental nature of the medium and its closeness to poetry. From 5 November, Black Eyes explores the traditional world of the shadow theatre, more especially in Greece and Turkey, and its influence on contemporary art in recent years. It brings together the work of eight contemporary artists and two master filmmakers, ranging from model theatres to film and photography.

The year will close with one of the undoubted highlights of the Irish visual arts calendar – the exhibition of Mexican Modernist art from the Gelman Collection in Mexico. Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism, which opens on 26 November,will explore the origins of Modernism in Mexico at a particularly important time for the development of the visual arts in that country. It will include 17 major paintings by Kahlo and further works by her husband Diego Rivera and is expected to attract a wide cross-section of visitors, as both Kahlo and Rivera have attained near-iconic status through the vibrant and accessible nature of their art, and their colourful personal histories.

The Collection

2008 will also be an important year in terms of the development and presentation of IMMA’s Collection. The ongoing policy of identifying and filling significant gaps in the Collection continues, with the recent addition of 39 work by the distinguished Irish artist Hughie O’Donoghue on permanent loan from the American Ireland Fund, plus the acquisition of major works by Sean Scully, Patrick Scott, Barry Flanagan, Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland, Anne Madden, Willie Doherty, Cecily Brennan and many others.

New displays from the Collection begin on 27 February with Carlos Amorales: Dark Mirror, a double video projection by this leading Mexican artist, acquired by IMMA in 2005. The work presents a nightmarish animation of man and beast in apocalyptic scenes derived from popular culture and Mexican icons.

Self as Selves, from 28 May, comprises ten works exploring the provisional nature of self as a series of transitory states – always changing, never defined – and includes works by Maud Cotter, Ann Hamilton, Hermione Wiltshire and others. James Coleman: Background, 1991-94, one of the trilogy of Coleman’s works acquired by IMMA in 2004, will go on show on 30 July.

From 19 September Exquisite Corpse will reveal a variety of perspectives on IMMA’s Collection in an exhibition selected by a cross section of artists, critics, writers, curators and museum visitors. As in the game beloved by the Surrealists which gives the show its title, each participant will select a work in response to that chosen by the previous participant.

The final Collection exhibition in 2008, opening on 8 December, is What happens next?, an experimental, ever-changing show drawn primarily from IMMA’s Collection, addressing the issue of what happens when artworks are shown in different contexts and what is the impact on a work when is becomes part of a collection or group exhibition.

Education and Community

The Museum’s Education and Community Department continues to create access programmes for all sectors of the public, and to work on specific projects to animate IMMA’s exhibitions throughout the year. These programmes operate on a number of levels, from providing access for all sectors of the education system to specially-designed activities for adults.

In addition to these ongoing programmes, in 2008 the Museum will launch a new initiative specifically for young people. Studio 8 is informed by the findings from the Mapping Art Project, involving IMMA and local youth groups, and the Minister for Children’s Teenspace report. It will create a designated space at the Museum where young people can base themselves and from which they can engage with IMMA’s programmes. Studio 8 will begin on a trial basis and will be evaluated over the course of 2008. It will also have a European dimension through the exchange of practitioners working with young people in a group of museums across Europe. This partnership will explore how museums can create a climate which encourages participation by young learners, aged 16 plus; how they can supports interaction with young people and how they can promote self-determined learning within the museum space.

Over the coming year IMMA will also embark on another international programme with seven partners throughout Europe. This three-year project will explore the development of online learning based on selected works from the collections of  museums in Warsaw, Prague, Munich, Porto and Tate in London. Associated bodies will include the City Literary Institute in London and the Dublin Institute of Technology.

A major symposium will take place in September investigating exhibition making and curatorial practice, in anticipation of an exhibition at IMMA in 2009 dealing with the nature and function of museums. Leading national and international artists, curators and critics will participate.

In the popular talks and lectures programme a diverse range of artists’ and curators’ talks, lectures and seminars are planned. A new strand under the title What Is…?  will explore different genres of contemporary art practice, while a new booklet on all of IMMA’s diverse access programmes is available from today and will be updated on a six-monthly basis.

National and Artists’ Residency Programme

The Museum’s unique National Programme will again take IMMA’s assets and expertise to 13 locations around the country in 2008. Projects, based around works from the Collection, take a variety of forms arising from the Museum’s engagement with the venue in question and input from the local community. These will include working with artists and schoolchildren in Dingle, Co Kerry, events to celebrate ten years of partnership between the Arts Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta in Inis Oírr and Connemara and exhibitions in Thurles, Co Tipperary, Wexford and Letterkenny, Co Donegal. With the continued support of the Department of Education and Science, the Museum will again work with all 13 centres in developing an appropriate primary school programme.

IMMA’s Artists’ Residency Programme, creating access to the processes involved in making art and providing an added layer of experience to that available in the galleries, will host 24 artists in 2008 including a large number of Irish artists, alongside participants from Thailand, the USA, Brazil, Malta, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. A full programme of talks and studio visits is, as usual, being arranged around the residencies, all of which are free and open to the public. VISIT, a city-wide open studio event, will again work in partnership with IMMA in 2008 to provide public access to a variety of artists’ studios across Dublin. Following on from last year’s VISIT, over 40 studios around Ireland have met and had initial discussions concerning the development of a national network of studios.

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

24 January 2008