The centenary of a turning point in Irish history will be marked
Many events planned for the next two months will mark the centenary of the 1922 World Congress of the Irish Race in Paris, the event that announced the Irish Free State to the world.
The Irish Art Exhibition, organized in conjunction with the congress, used culture as a signifier of the distinctive character of Ireland worthy of independence from the United Kingdom.
The landmark exhibition was held in Paris’ fashionable Galerie Barbazanges space and launched not just Irish creativity, but the emerging Irish nation onto the international stage. With over 100 delegates from 22 countries, including a representative from Java, the congress, which was the brainchild of Irish nationalists in South Africa, took place from January 21-28, 1922. The ambitious fanfare included lectures, concerts and plays, but the focal point was an exhibition of Irish visual arts with works by Jack B Yeats, Harry Clarke, Sean Keating, Sarah Purser, Lily Yeats, Mary Swanzy, John Lavery and Paul Henry.
To remember these events of 100 years ago, a series of exhibitions will be organized in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and will take place in the Midwest of the United States, in Ireland and in Europe.
the See Ireland exhibition at the Trinity Long Room Hub celebrates the cultural diplomacy attempt of 1922. It was organized by Trinity College Dublin, along with events coordinated by the O’Brien Collection, Chicago, the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies of the University of Notre Dame, the Irish Cultural Center and the University of Paris, Sorbonne in Paris. Currently open, it recreates the 1922 Art Exhibition – which was one of the most significant events in Irish art history – in online format, and will host a lecture titled Irish Artifice: Art, Culture and Power in Paris, 1922.
Who we are
The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, in conjunction with the O’Brien Collection is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Who do we say we are? Irish Art 1922/2022” which examines the use of art as a nation-building tool, asking the question, “If we were to hold a similar exhibition today, who might be included and what themes still resonate?”
The paintings of those exhibited at the 1922 convention are juxtaposed with contemporary artists such as Hughie O’Donoghue, Diana Copperwhite and Patrick Graham who “explore questions of national identity rooted in diaspora and landscape”. In collaboration with the visual arts, musicians and composers contribute to the project, including The Goodman Trio Project, Liz Carroll, Marty Fahey and The Seamus Egan.
For all in Paris, on Saturday March 12, the Center Culturel Irlandais is hosting the second in a series of evenings of lively debates which “bring together outstanding contemporary thinkers and authorities in their field to talk about their aspirations for the future of ‘Ireland”. The series echoes some of the lectures given at the 1922 congress when Jack B Yeats delivered his only public lecture on Irish art; his brother William spoke on Irish literature and Douglas Hyde spoke on the Irish language. Contributors to the lecture series, which runs until June, include Irish activist Panti Bliss, Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole and new Oxford University composition professor Jennifer Walshe .
Ireland 1922, the book edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, features 50 essays by leading scholars that “explore a turning point in history” and examine “many key issues and debates from a year that transformed Ireland” . In collaboration with Century Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy is putting all 50 essays online. Each contributor focuses on an event “that sheds light on a key aspect of revolutionary Ireland”.
On the occasion of the centenary of the congress and the 300 Irish works exhibited in France, Sotheby’s is organizing a special sale and an exhibition in Paris from May 9 to 16. Dedicated cross-category sales, Ireland/France: Art, Literature, Wine will feature key works by leading Irish artists and writers with links to France and those represented in the 1922 World Congress exhibition.
The online sale, which will also celebrate French vineyards with Irish ties, “will be a celebration of the cultural ties that have long united Ireland and France”.
Along with works by Paul Henry, Louis le Brocquy, Roderic O’Conor and Letitia Hamilton, the sale will also include works by Countess Markievicz, whose art featured in the 1922 exhibition. Countess Markievicz was also a delegate of prominent at the event where she urged congress to counter negative stereotypes of the Irish people in the UK media. Literary works by WB Yeats, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce will also be presented.
During the 1922 Paris showcase – which has been described as a cultural coup – the French government bought a painting of the west of Ireland by Paul Henry. While it was the only known sale of the exhibition, today at the National Museum of Modern Art at the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris, the exhibition itself was decisive insofar as all these works and all of these artists are still revered today.
seeireland.ie, sniteartmuseum.nd.edu, ria.ie, centreculturelirlandais.com, sothebys.com