Cork, Ireland.- The Crawford Art Gallery is proud to present “The AIB Art Collection”, on view until April 14th. Donated this February by AIB to the State, this fine collection of some of the best works of Irish art will become part of the Crawford Art Gallery’s permanent collection. A total of 39 paintings including works from well-known artists such as Jack B Yeats, Paul Henry and Sir William Orpen, have been donated, twelve of the artworks have already been transferred to the State with a further 27 to be given over the next two years.
The paintings are form part of the permanent collection of the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork An exhibition featuring some of the works being donated will be opened by Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan at the gallery early next month. The star of the collection is Jack B. Yeats’ A Race in Hy-Brazil. Described by Oskar Kokoschka as the “greatest painter in the world”, Yeats depicted the people and landscapes of Sligo and the West of Ireland using colour in a glorious and uninhibited way. He did much of his best work during the 1940’s and 50’s, when received wisdom would hold that Ireland was a drab and grey place. If this be true, then AIB and its support of the arts played an important role in the country’s emergence from these grey years, and it is fitting that the three works by Yeats coming to the Crawford are amongst his best: A Race in Hy Brazil has a marvellous dream-like quality while Now or Never and Shelling Peas in Moore Street capture quintessential moments of everyday life.
William Scott’s Blue Still Life with Knife were also inspired by aspects of everyday life, as was Nathaniel Hill’s Goosegirl in a Breton Farmyard and Joseph Malachy Kavanagh’s Cockle Pickers. The AIB Art Collection also records the struggle for political independence, and the equally arduous road towards making Ireland a modern nation state. Sean Keating’s On the Run, War of Independence recalls the early 1920’s, when ambushes, raids and reprisals were a common occurance and yet during this same period artists such as Mainie Jellett, Mary Swanzy and Evie Hone could still travel to London and Paris to study art. These talented artists returned to Ireland, where they avidly promoted Modernism, including Cubism, in an art world that had up to then been rather blinkered, and dominated by male academic painters. A key work by Mainie Jellet is Composition with 3 Elements, while Evie Hone’s Landscape, Co. Wicklow is an early and fine example of her work. William Orpen, represented in the AIB collection by The Boxer, inspired a later generation of realist painters including Maurice MacGonigal, whose Races at Ballyconneely is delightful evocation of windswept Connemara. Colin Middleton experimented with Expressionism and Surrealism, as in his, Market Day, Moonlight Ballyholme and Winter, while Patrick Collins also forged a very individual and delicately-handled style of abstraction, seen at its best in Travelling Tinkers, Bog Country and A Place with Stones, works that evoke memories of Fragonard and Watteau. Harry Kernoff continues the thread of everyday life that links many of the works in the AIB collection, with his view of ordinary people enjoying themselves, in Sunny Day, Dublin and The Forty Foot, Sandycove, while Gerard Dillon never lost sight of his background, instead transforming his experience of years of adversity into magnificant paintings such as Cut Out, Drop Out and Still Life. The painter Tony O’Malley had started out on a career as a bank official only turning to art later in life, and it is apt that his Ripe Cornfield in the Wind and Big White Flower Pot are two works from AIB that will be coming to the Crawford. William Crozier has a particular affinity with West Cork, and is represented by two fine paintings, Walking to the Sea and The River Boundary (Lough Hyne). Donated in February 2012 by AIB to the State, this fine collection of some of the best works of Irish art will become part of the Crawford Art Gallery’s permanent collection.
Crawford Art Gallery, a National Cultural Institiution and regional art museum for Munster, is dedicated to the visual arts, both historic and contemporary. Located in the heart of Cork city, beside the Opera House, the Gallery is a critical part of Ireland’s cultural and tourism infrastructure, welcoming over 200,000 visitors a year. The Gallery´s permanent collection comprises over 2,000 works, ranging from eighteenth century Irish and European painting and sculpture, through to contemporary video installations. At the heart of the collection is a collection of Greek and Roman sculpture casts, brought to Cork in 1818 from the Vatican Museum in Rome. The collection is particularly strong in Irish art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Crawford Art Gallery´s art collection was formed in 1819, when a set of Graeco-Roman and Neo-Classical sculpture casts were presented to the Cork Society of Arts. This collection was quickly augmented with works by students and teachers of the Cork School of Art, formed that same year: the students included Samuel Forde, Daniel Maclise and John Hogan. In 1825, the collection was moved to its present building, the former Custom House of Cork. The old Custom House provided a home for the Royal Cork Institution, the body that had taken over responsibility for the art collection, between 1825 and 1849. With the founding of a university in Cork, responsibility for the art collection was transferred to the Cork Government School of Design, established in 1850, that continued to occupy the old Custom House. In 1884, a new extension was added to the building, providing purpose-built galleries for exhibiting paintings and sculptures. Renamed the Crawford School of Art, the art collection, used also as an adjunct to the teaching of art, continued to grow, under the stewardship of the Technical Instruction Committee.
The collection was augmented with the purchase of works by Irish artists, many of them staff or graduates of the Cork School of Art. This pattern continued through the twentieth century, although there were several developments, notably the bequest of funds for the purchase of works for the collection by Joseph Stafford Gibson in 1919. This fund was used through the mid-20th century to acquire a sizeable collection of mainly academic paintings. Private donations of works, such as the Seamus Murphy sculpture collection, will continue to form an important part of the Gallery´s acquisition strategy in the future, although such acquisitions need to be guided by this policy document. In 2006, a new company was established by the Minister of Arts, Sport and Tourism to manage the Gallery. Ownership of the building was transferred to the Office of Public Works, and the Gallery designated a National Cultural Institution. The School of Art had long since moved (in 1979) to a different building, and in 2007 the administrative offices of the City of Cork VEC were also transferred to new premises nearby. The Department of Arts Sport and Tourism now provides an annual grant in aid that enables the purchase of a small number of significant works, both of historic and contemporary art. The legislation Section 1,003 of the Finance Act, through providing income tax relief on works donated to the Crawford and other National Cultural Institutions, has become an important avenue for acquisitions to the permanent collection. The permanent collection of the Crawford Art Gallery has grown steadily in recent years. It is strongest in 20th century and contemporary Irish art. In 1990 the collection numbered some 1,500 paintings sculptures, prints and other works of art. These works were listed in the Illustrated Summary Catalogue, published in 1992. Since that date, over 1,000 new works have been added to the collection, which now contains over 2,500 items. Visit the museum’s website at … http://www.crawfordartgallery.ie