Origins, Contexts, Publics
Róisín Kennedy Experimentalism or Mere Chaos? The White Stag Group and the Reception of Subjective Art in Ireland 179
Róisín Kennedy Experimentalism or Mere Chaos? The White Stag Group and the Reception of Subjective Art in Ireland In 1940 two young English artists arrived in Dublin. Kenneth Hall and Basil Rákóczi were the sole members of the White Stag Group. Their activities attracted the attention of other migrant artists as well as Irish artists seek- ing to connect with international modernism in a period of isolation. The White Stag became the focal point of a series of exhibitions and discussions which highlighted the contemporary crisis in the purpose and meaning of artistic creativity in both war-torn Europe and neutral Ireland. The core members of the group left Ireland in 1945 and the activities of the White Stag ceased. It was rarely, if ever, referred to in subsequent accounts of twentieth-century Irish art until Brian Kennedy’s extensive research on Irish art and modernism in the 1980s brought the activities of the group to light once more.1 Since then the White Stag, afforded a major exhibition in IMMA in 2005,2 has been embraced by the Irish art establish- ment as one of the only manifestations of the avant-garde in Ireland.3 This essay examines the critical discourse generated by the White Stag Group during its sojourn in Dublin in the Emergency. It also considers what its legacy, if any, was to the development of a critical context for the creation of an Irish modernist art. 1 S.B. Kennedy, Irish Art and Modernism (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies,...
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