Something New: Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

I have a confession to make. I am not a huge fan of modern art. This isn’t to say that I think the art is bad, however sometimes I simply don’t “get” it. Back in the day I spent a summer working as a membership assistant in the Art Institute of Chicago which had a large modern art section. I still didn’t “get” it then either. However over time certain pieces began to grow on me, especially once I knew the background of the piece and the story (or the lack thereof) that the artist was trying to tell. The more time I spent looking and learning, the more I began to appreciate what I was seeing and the message it was conveying. I then returned to Ireland to finish university and I promptly forgot about all types of art and didn’t bother continuing to seek out anything to admire or learn about.

Entrance to IMMA Earlsfort Terrace

Entrance to IMMA Earlsfort Terrace

So now that I am on this course of rediscovery I figured that I would give the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) a go. However I got there too late and everything was closed except for the coffee shop. It was a nice coffee and there was a lovely bell but that was about all I saw.  It did not seem like IMMA and me were meant to be until this week when I finally made it on 30th May 2012.

IMMA is usually based in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin. This is probably the reason it took so long me to get out there, as I am very lazy. At the moment they are carrying out some refurbishment works so they have a new offsite location at Earlsfort Terrace, which will temporarily display pieces of their collection from 31st May 2012. The opening night of the collection was on so I popped along with my trusty companion to have a look at the art, not just because there was free wine I swear.

First I have to commend the choice of the new site at Earlsfort Terrace. It is a fantastic spot in my opinion as it is close to town, St Stephen’s Green and attached to the National Concert Hall which should hopefully attract some people in to have a look. The building itself is also fantastic as it is part of the old UCD medical school and retains some really lovely features from the era. IMMA also have use of the annex which I have been informed is the sole surviving example in Ireland of a Real Tennis court. There are also nice lecture theatres which were full up for the talks taking place on the night.

Cacti

Cacti

The exhibition itself is called Time Out of Mind: Works from the IMMA Collection and the focus of the pieces is on the artists perception of time and the relationship between time and memory. To be honest I wouldn’t have guessed this from looking at the pieces, but luckily for me there was an accompanying magazine which helpfully explained what was going on and what the pieces were about. I enjoyed some of the pieces more than others, for example I am going to have nightmares after viewing Mark Manders, Figure with an Iron Ruler (2004). But there is plenty here worth seeing, even for those who would not consider themselves fans of these art styles.

  1. Daphne Wright, Where do the Broken Hearts Go (2008): There were giant cactii and there was a recording of a lady reading out the lyrics of country music songs. I thought it was fantastic and I now want to fill my one bed apartment with giant silver cactuses, which I’m sure my cat will not appreciate.
  2. Sean Scully, Wall of Light, Yellow (1999): This painting has been in the spotlight of late due to its inclusion on the final short-list for Masterpiece Ireland’s Favourite Painting. It caused some great debate and discussion around its inclusion and merits, often times bringing out some strong opinions in people (not looking at anyone in particular). I quite like the painting not just because it reminds me of tasty macaroons but also because of the colours. I think it is a lovely warm piece which showcases the colours really nicely. I am not surprised that it didn’t win, still I think it is well worth a visit.
  3. Marcel Duchamp, Rotoreliefs (Optical Disks) (1953): At first we were quite afraid to go into this room as there were five people staring down into glass boxes which looked very odd. But we went in and soon found ourselves staring downwards with delight. Cardboard disks were being spun around in the glass boxes creating some fun optical illusions. This amused children and adults alike and was great fun and slightly dizzying.
  4. Niamh McCann, Tree 2010: This piece caused some debate among myself and my trusty companion and he wasn’t too sure what it was. I think it is a really nice piece which, if it were much smaller, I could see in our living room. I really liked the mix of the neon light with the wood and I am a sucker for golf-leaf birds.
  5. Stephen McKenna, Moonlight (2000): This is simply a painting of the moon and some clouds. The colours are again quite interesting and I really liked the way he portrayed the light shining from the moon and how it bounced off the clouds.
  6. William McKeown, Hope Paining (Going Through the Looking Glass)(2005): This one I have included for my Mum. We used to joke that her favourite colour was beige and this painting is a beige delight. So Mum, I am sorry for mocking your beige painting ways, William McKeown has soon me what can be done with a bit of imagination.
Sean Scully: Wall of Light, Yellow

Sean Scully: Wall of Light, Yellow

On the whole I would recommend a visit, if not just to see some exquisitely-dressed visitors, of which there were many. You may not like all the works but there are some real gems on display. I will definitely be visiting again mostly because we didn’t get a chance to visit all of the new site and I would like to get a guided tour to learn more about the background of some of the pieces. This exhibition runs until the 2nd September 2012 so you have plenty of time and no excuse to miss it!

Note: Apologies for the pictures, photography is not one of my talents.


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