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Irish Modernism

Origins, Contexts, Publics


Edited By Edwina Keown and Carol Taaffe

This is the first interdisciplinary volume to present a sustained examination of the emergence, reception and legacy of modernism in Ireland. Engaging with the ongoing re-evaluation of regional and national modernisms, the essays collected here reveal both the importance of modernism to Ireland, and that of Ireland to modernism. Central concerns of the book include definitions of and critical contexts for an Irish modernism, issues of production, reception and the marketplace, new dialogues between literature and the visual arts in Ireland, modernism and Catholicism, and Irish modernism’s relationship with European and Anglo-American modernism. With contributions from established and emerging scholars in both Irish Studies and Modernist Studies, this collection introduces fresh perspectives on modern Irish culture that reflect new understandings of the contradictory and contested nature of modernism itself.


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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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