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Life above Everything is a major exhibition that brings together the work of two acknowledged masters, Lucian Freud and Jack B. Yeats. Exploring the affinities and interconnections between these two artists, this exhibition draws the work of these two stubbornly individual painters into dialogue, placing them side-by-side for the first time in 70 years. While Lucian Freud’s work has been exhibited in the past in group exhibitions alongside other artists from the ‘School of London’, Life above Everything is one of the few exhibitions to date in which Freud has been shown with a single other artist.

Freud’s interest in Yeats is little discussed, but he had a lifelong interest in the Irish painter’s work, holding a deep admiration for its force and energy. He did not cite Yeats as an ‘influence’ but instead seems to have felt a common purpose with his originality and independence, his continuous searching observation, and his sense of the connection between painting and life. A pen and ink drawing by Yeats, The Dancing Stevedores (c.1900), hung beside Freud’s bed for over 20 years.

Life Above Everything will include a substantial number of oil paintings by both artists, 33 by Freud and 24 by Yeats, as well as a range of works on paper, sourced from public and private collections internationally. There are five new loans of work by Freud to the IMMA Collection: Freud Project including important early works such as Girl with Roses (1947-48), Girl with Beret (1951) and Boat, Connemara (1951). Significant loans of works by Yeats include The Bus by the River (1927), People in a Street (c.1935), A Dancer (Rosses Point, Sligo) (1921), as well as From the Tram Top (c. 1925), which features one of Yeats’s rare cameos in his own work.

Unique to this exhibition is the inclusion of seven paintings by Jack B. Yeats which Freud selected for a close friend, advising him on works to acquire at auction or through the relevant gallery. We are delighted to be able to present these seven paintings, ‘approved’ by Freud, as a special grouping of Yeats’s works within this exhibition.

David Dawson, artist and Freud’s long-time studio assistant, has assisted in the selection for this exhibition, bringing to the project a unique, intimate knowledge of Freud’s interest in Yeats.

The exhibition is made possible by the IMMA Collection: Freud Project 2016-2021, a five-year loan of 52 works by Lucian Freud to the IMMA Collection by private lenders. This is the fourth exhibition to be presented as part of the project.

Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud 1922–2011

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) was one of the greatest realist painters of the 20th century. Renowned for his portrayal of the human form, Freud is best known for his intimate, honest, often visceral portraits. Working only from life Freud’s studio was intensely private and he mainly worked with those he was close to, often asking subjects to sit for hundreds of hours over multiple sittings to better capture the essence of their personality.
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Jack Butler Yeats

Jack Butler Yeats 1871–1957

Irish painter Jack Butler Yeats was born in London and grew up in Sligo. He attended the Government School of Design and the Westminster School of Art. Yeats was elected a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1916. His painting ‘The Liffey Swim’ won a silver medal at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. The broad fluid brushstrokes of that work mark the beginning of his expressive and experimental style. Yeats's work is held in numerous national collections including IMMA, the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Crawford Art Gallery.

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IMMA presents 'Life Above Everything: Lucian Freud and Jack B. Yeats'


Additional Resources 


Additional Resources

Take IMMA home

Catalogue Life above Everything: Lucian Freud and Jack B. Yeats €20 Beautiful catalogue edited by Christina Kennedy and Nathan O'Donnell with texts from David Dawson, William Feaver, James Finch, Róisín Kennedy, Hilary Pyle and Eithne Jordan. We are very pleased to present new research and responses by scholars, curators and artists, to both Lucian Freud and Jack B Yeats. Add to Cart

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Become an IMMA Member today and you can visit this exhibition with a guest, for free, as often as you like. IMMA Members enjoy  Join today and enjoy free entry to ticketed exhibitions, exclusive access to curators and artists, specially programmed events, discounts in our shop, and a free coffee on us. Membership starts at just €50/year, or less than €5 per month.



IMMA Collection: Freud Project is made possible through the visionary support of the Freud Circle, and those donors that wish to remain anonymous.

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. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.