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Minister Hanafin Launches IMMA’s 20th Anniversary Programme

PRESS RELEASE – 19 January 2011

An exhibition of paintings by the celebrated Mexican Modernists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; works by younger generation Irish artists, recently acquired for the Museum’s Collection; a special season of performances, including opera and contemporary dance, and greatly increased web resources for schools are all part of a rich and exciting 20th anniversary programme at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, announced today (Wednesday 19 January) by the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mary Hanafin, TD. Plans for 2011 also include solo exhibitions by leading Irish and international artists such as Gerard Byrne, Barrie Cooke, Romuald Hazoumè and Philip Taaffe; a large-scale exhibition from an important American photographic collection, which is being donated to IMMA, and a display of works from the Museum’s collection of Old Master Prints.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Minister Hanafin said: “In the past 20 years we have seen a growth in public interest in modern and contemporary art in this country that would scarcely have seemed possible just a few decades ago, and IMMA has played a central role in this development. Since its foundation in 1991, IMMA has presented some 240 separate exhibitions and has significantly extended the scale and scope of its Collection, which now comprises some 2,600 contemporary works and 4,600 additional works in the Old Master Print Collection.  IMMA demonstrates the important benefits that can flow from a close and effective relationship between the arts, education and the wider community, a key objective of Government.  The depth and variety of IMMA’s 2011 programme will be a major attraction for visitors and will be a fitting celebration of all that it has achieved in the past 20 years.”

Commenting on the programme for the anniversary year IMMA Director Enrique Juncosa said: "I believe we have put in place a very exciting programme for our 20th anniversary year. It focuses especially on the most contemporary, to highlight IMMA’s commitment to new developments in the visual arts. There is also a significant international dimension; in recognition of the new global art scene. We are presenting important new gifts to the Collection too. The generosity of artists and collectors confirming, somehow, the visibility the Museum has achieved internationally, and the importance it has locally. The Irish arts across different generations are, as usual, well represented, and I would like to highlight the presentation of recently acquired works by younger artists, which we are introducing into the IMMA Collection."


The new temporary exhibition programme gets underway on 9 February with an exhibition by Romuald Hazoumè, one of Africa’s most critically-acclaimed artists. Born in the Republic of Benin, Hazoumè’s work engages with what he perceives as neo-colonialism in West Africa, more especially through the presence of multi-national oil companies. The exhibition at IMMA focuses on the artist’s response to this in the form of sculptures made from discarded oil canisters. The works reference the original containers, frequently used to transport black-market petrol, while also calling to mind the tribal masks which influenced the early Modernists such as Picasso and Braque.

The first large-scale exhibition in this country by the renowned American artist Philip Taaffe follows on 23 March, presenting more than 30 paintings created over the past ten years. Taaffe’s work has been celebrated in museums around the world for its rich fusion of
abstraction with ornamentation, combining elements of Islamic architecture, Op Art, Eastern European textile design, calligraphy and botanical illustration. The exhibition includes many of the most striking examples of the vivid, complex images that result from Taaffe’s highly individual use of line and colour.

One of the undoubted highlights of the year will be the eagerly-awaited exhibition of paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the central figures in Mexican Modernism, famous for the vibrant and accessible nature of their art and for their colourful personal histories. Opening on 6 April and originally due to be shown in a slightly different form in 2008, the exhibition is drawn from the collection of the late Jacques and Natasha Gelman in Cuernavaca, Mexico. It includes many of the artists’ best-known works, such as Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Monkeys and Diego on My Mind and Rivera’s Calla Lily Vendors. The 20 paintings are supplemented by photographs, diaries, lithographs, drawings, pastels and collages, offering a wider insight into the artists’ lives and work. The exhibition is further extended by the inclusion of photographs of churches and cloisters in Mexico by Kahlo’s father, Guillermo Kahlo, and by a film, Dialogue with Myself (Encounter), 2001, by Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura, in which he assumes the role of Kahlo.

IMMA’s strand of solo exhibitions by prominent Irish and Irish-based artists continues with an exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Barrie Cooke, being held to mark his 80th birthday, and a survey of film and photographic works from the past decade by Gerard Byrne. Opening on 15 June, Barrie Cooke presents approximately 70 paintings and sculptures from the early 1960s to date, many dealing with nature and the nude. The exhibition draws on IMMA’s own significant holding of his work, with such important pieces as Slow Dance Forest Floor, 1976, and Megaceros Hibernicus, 1983, as well as on private and institutional collections. From 27 July, the Museum will present a ten-year survey of the work of Irish artist Gerard Byrne, whose international reputation has grown significantly in recent years. It will present film and photographic works from the past ten years, many inspired by the artist’s favourite sources, ranging from popular magazines to the work of iconic Modernist playwrights, such as Brecht, Beckett and Sartre.

The Barrie Cooke exhibition will travel to the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, the Romuald Hazoumè exhibition will travel to Wales, while the Gerard Byrne exhibition will be shown in Lisbon and London, continuing the Museum’s established policy of touring exhibitions to leading sister institutions in Ireland and around the world.

Meanwhile, from 20 July Out of the Dark Room, from the David Kronn Collection in New York, presents some 140 photographs from 19th-century Daguerreotypes to the work of legendary figures, such as Edward Weston and August Sander, and award-winning contemporary photographers, including Trine Sondergaard and Simon Norfolk. David Kronn has made a promised gift of his collection of some 450 works to IMMA. This will begin with the immediate donation of a portrait of Louise Bourgeois by Annie Leibovitz, and will continue as an annual bequest of works each year, until his entire collection is housed in IMMA.

Opening alongside the Gerald Byrne exhibition on 27 July is an exhibition of video works and installations by the celebrated Thai film director and screenwriter Apichapong Weerasethakul, winner of the 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or for his mesmerising film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Weerasethakuk has made over 35 art films and installations and IMMA will present a selection of these shorter works, while the IFI will host a season of his feature films to coincide with the exhibition.

The final temporary exhibition in 2011 presents the work of leading Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander, being seen for the first time in Ireland in a major mid-career survey of her wide-ranging, interdisciplinary practice. Opening on 16 November, the exhibition highlights Neuenschwander’s unique contribution to the narrative of Brazilian Conceptualism and reveals a practice that merges painting, photography, film, sculpture, installation, collaborative actions and participatory events. Three installations in the exhibition involve direct visitor participation. 

The Museum will play a prominent role in Dublin Contemporary 2011 in September and October, extending its exhibition programme with separate site-specific works in the courtyard by two leading installation artists: British artist Liam Gillick, now based in New York, and Spanish artist Susana Solano.


The Museum has, in recent years, significantly extended the scale and scope of its Collection, frequently through generous donations and long-term loans of works from both Irish and international collectors. The Collections Department begins the year with exhibitions drawn from two such donations, both opening on 23 March.

The first is drawn from the Madden Arnholz Collection of Old Master Prints, which ranges from the early 16th to the late 19th century and includes works by such masters as Pieter Brueghel, Jacques Callot, Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, William Hogarth and Rembrandt van Rijn. The Collection was donated to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in 1989 by Claire Madden in memory of her daughter Étain and son-in-law Dr Friedrich Arnholz.  Dr Arnholz, who was Jewish, was forced to leave Berlin for London in the late 1930s, due to the Nazi regime. He was an avid collector of prints and, both in Britain and through regular visits to the continent, built up a significant collection, including German, Flemish, Dutch and British works. The exhibition is curated by Janet and John Banville, who have had a long association with the collection.

The second exhibition comprises three suites of works recently gifted to IMMA by the Dublin-born artist Les Levine, now based in New York and widely regarded as the founder of Media Art. As in all of Levine’s oeuvre, they reflect the artist’s belief that social and political issues, such as the Northern Troubles, are valid concerns for art. Two of the series are entitled The Troubles: An Artist’s Document of Ulster, 1972, and have been described by the artist as dealing not with the political but with the human point of view, allowing the photographs to tell their own story. The third work Using the Camera as a Club, 1979 includes seven etchings that are intended to subvert the media’s characteristic mass communication strategies by counteracting them with powerful alternative visions.

To mark its anniversary year, and with the very welcome assistance of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, IMMA has recently acquired a series of 12 new artworks by nine younger-generation Irish and international artists, including Nina Canell, John Gerrard, Katie Holten, Niamh O’Malley and Garrett Phelan. These will be shown, alongside recent works by their peers, in an exhibition entitled Twenty: New Irish Acquisitions, which will open on 27 May to coincide with both the anniversary and with Dublin Contemporary.  Although commonalties and dialogues appear between the artworks in Twenty, the exhibition seeks to allow sufficient space that each artists’ work may be viewed as an individual practice. The acquisitions echo the purchase of works by artists at a similar stage in their careers when IMMA opened in 1991, many of whom went on to have a mutually-rewarding, long-term association with the Museum in the intervening years.

The anniversary programme on 27 May will also see the installation in the grounds at IMMA of a sculpture by the leading Spanish artist Juan Muñoz, being lent by the Lisson Gallery in London. Monument  is a large structure made of granite slabs mounted with flags, inspired by Edwin Lutyens’ Cenotaph in London and resonating, even if unintentionally, with the original use of the Royal Hospital. Muñoz, who died in 2001 at the age of 48, had a major exhibition at IMMA in 1994, which included Conversation Piece, an installation of 22 life-size figures, one of the most spellbinding works ever shown in the Museum’s courtyard. Muñoz was undeterred in using a more traditional language of sculpture and storytelling to relate to the human condition, history and memory, thereby creating a sense of intimacy even when the work might seem obscure or enormous in scale.

Education and Community

Despite the prevailing constraints on budgets, IMMA continues to work hard to make its activities ever more accessible, with its specially-designed programmes for children, young people, families and adults through free guided tours; talks, lectures and seminars; gallery and studio-based workshops, and studio visits to artists on the Museum’s residency programme.

New initiatives for 2011 are based on greatly increased web resources for primary and second level schools in relation to The Moderns, the Collection, temporary exhibitions and other projects. These include texts in association with the very popular What is…? lecture series; teachers’ packs for all of the primary school programmes; Leaving Certificate notes in relation to the curatorial aspects of The Moderns, and study guides on a selection of artists and work.

A major publication planned for 2011, Our Collection, comprises four themed art packs designed for children at primary school level featuring artworks from the IMMA Collection. Other publications in 2011 are Museum21, the third in a series of publications based on papers arising from the Museum’s series of successful international symposia, and The Artists’ Panel Review which includes essays and case studies of artist’s practices in engaging the public with contemporary arts practices will also be published.

The programme designed in conjunction with Amnesty International continues in 2011. Entitled Voice Our Concern, the programme has published a resource pack for second level teachers and Youthreach tutors, which includes a chapter by IMMA introducing ways to explore artists’ work concerned with social issues. Currently, 18 schools and Youthreach centres are involved in a programme exploring the work of Paul Seawright, one of the artists in IMMA’s Collection. In addition, the successful Studio 8 programme will continue to provide access to the Museum for young people. The Studio 10 programme for adults also continues throughout the year, while the Talks and Lectures Programme will present a diverse range of artist’s and curator’s talks, lectures and seminars. In relation to research projects, St Patrick’s College (NUI) and Poetry Ireland are working with IMMA on an ongoing project to explore children’s critical thinking in relation to visual arts and the written word.  As a result of Phase One of this research, a new undergraduate module has been devised for Third Year students at St Patrick’s College. Also, a new large-scale research project aimed at providing digital access to museum collections in a number of European countries will be announced shortly.

National and Artists’ Residency Programmes
In addition to the exhibitions at IMMA, the Collection will also be shown in a number of arts centres and other locations around Ireland, as part of IMMA’s National Programme, an area in which the Museum has led the way as a truly national institution over the past 14 years.  The widely-praised Altered Images exhibition and associated programmes will travel to the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, the Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast and the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. A collaborative project between Mayo County Council Arts Office, South Tipperary Arts Service and IMMA’s National Programme, it is designed to enhance the experience of both disabled and non-disabled visitors thorough tactile relief models, audio descriptions, CD, Braille and large-print versions of the exhibition catalogue and an interpretive signed-representation of the exhibition in the form of a filmed performance by artist Amanda Coogan.

Other collaborations include an exhibition at the Burren College of Art, Co Clare, a display of film works as part of SOMA Contemporary in Waterford, the presentation of Shane Cullen’s Fragmens Sur Les Institutions Républicaines IV at the West Belfast Festival, a selection of works from The Moderns exhibition at Ceardlann na gCroisbhealach, Falcarragh, Co Donegal, and a continuing participation in Wexford Arts Office’s Art Alongside schools project.

The Artists’ Residency Programme (ARP) will host a diverse group of 12 artists coming together to live and work at IMMA from Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Scotland, Sweden, America and Canada. This year IMMA is pleased to be able to offer improved on-site accommodation and studio facilities following a recent upgrade.

The aim of the ARP is to generate a creative space for artists at a crucial point in their career and for the participating artists to leave IMMA with new experiences and networks that will enable them to further their practice. Each artist will also show their studio work in the Process Room for a two-week period during their time at IMMA.

20th Anniversary Performance Programme

To celebrate the date of the anniversary, IMMA is staging a special programme of performances at the end of May, with the assistance of additional funding kindly made available by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport. This will include an ambitious performance piece, The Scavenger’s Daughters, by prominent Irish artist Orla Barry, presenting a fictional narrative concerning intimate relationships and the inability to communicate; a concert performance of the The Intelligence Park, a rarely-heard opera by the celebrated Irish composer Gerald Barry set in 18th-century Dublin, and a film and sound work by French composer Cyprien Gaillard and musician Koudlam from the Ivory Coast. In addition, poet and novelist Jeremy Reed and musician Itchy Ear (Gerry McNee) will stage a unique collaboration under the title The Ginger Light, and Dublin-based artist Dennis McNulty will present an interdisciplinary work responding to the wider context in which the Museum is located, including the Royal Hospital building, the Formal Gardens and the changes to that environment in more recent years.  

Also in May, IMMA will join with Dublin Dance Festival to present two renowned contemporary dance artists: Jodi Melnick in Fanfare, created in collaboration with video artist Burt Barr; and Yasuko Yokoshi, who will present Bell, a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Kabuki dance. In October choreographer Michael Kliën will present two linked pieces, Silent Witness/A Dancing Man.

Online Developments

In addition to its programming initiatives IMMA has also made significant advances in terms of its presence online, funded by a Cultural Technology Grant from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport. This has facilitated the development of an Online Museum and an iPhone application for The Moderns. The iPhone app is now available, and the online Museum will go live at the end of next week. This will enable online visitors to go on a guided tour, walking around a sculpture and viewing it from any angle. In addition, Louis Le Broquy can be heard speaking about his work. It will provide a school tour and allow users to curate their own show from 20 favourite works. This will offer a new visitor experience for a new generation, and it will make the National Collection available for viewing at all times. 

Upgrading Works in Main Building

A major project to upgrade the Museum’s lighting, security and fire systems will begin in November 2011. The work will be confined to the main Museum building and will involve the installation of a new wiring system, greatly enhanced electronic security and a more advanced fire prevention system. Improved flooring, a new art lift and an additional fire escape will also be put in place. The scale of the works, which are being carried out by the Office of Public Works, will mean that the galleries in IMMA’s main building will be closed to the public from the beginning of November 2011 and will reopen in January 2013.

The Museum is planning a series of projects in a number of locations around Dublin and an increased National Programme presence throughout the country during that time. The upgrade works will significantly enhance the experience for visitors, with the greatly improved lighting and flooring, while the improvements to security systems will enable part of the North Range to be used for exhibitions on a regular basis. The project will also reduce energy costs and enable the Museum to operate in a more environmentally efficient manner.

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

19 January 2011

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.