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Yeats’ paintings come home to Sligo

Jack B. Yeats exhibition to include previously unseen masterpiece recently sold at auction.

Opening on February 5th, the spring exhibition from The Model, home of the Niland Collection in Sligo, is a major exhibition of one of Ireland’s finest painters, and local son, Jack B. Yeats. Entitled The Outsider, and co-curated by Brian O’Doherty, the exhibition surveys Yeats’ career from his initial experiments in oils in the early 1900’s to his very last paintings completed just before his death in 1957. The show will bring many of Yeats’ great masterpieces together in Sligo for the first time in almost 40 years.

Reared in Sligo by his maternal grandparents, Yeats spent much of his time travelling the town and county with his grandfather who owned a shipping business. The landscape and the characters he encountered during this time made a deep and lasting impression on the young artist, and he returned to the memories of his Sligo days for inspiration for his work again and again through out his life. In his later years Yeats acknowledged the deep influence of Sligo on his work when he said that he had never created a painting that did not have in it “at least a thought of Sligo”

Many of the works in The Outsider are drawn from the impressive Niland Collection of art, which now boasts 49 Jack B. Yeats works and a further 19 works from his father John, two from his sister and four by his nice Anne Yeats and one by his wife Mary Cottenham Yeats. The Model is delighted to be in a position to fulfil the ambitions of Nora Niland, the founder of The Niland Collection, by staging this ambitious survey show of Yeats work in 2010.

The paintings from the Niland Collection will be joined by pieces from the collections of The National Gallery of Ireland, Tate Britain and Limerick City Gallery of Art. Many more works have been gathered from private collections all over the world, some of which have not been exhibited publically since the 1950’s. The Model is delighted to be in a position to show these great works in Yeats’ hometown of Sligo.

Also included in the show will be two paintings from the Graham Greene estate, sold by Christie’s of London in December to a private collector. This collector has made the previously unseen paintings available to The Model for the duration of the show. ‘A Man in a Room Thinking,’ and ‘A Horseman Enters a Town at Night’, were recently sold for a combined value of almost €500,000. ‘A Horseman Enters a Town at Night’ is a beautiful, dark painting, with flashes of vermillion and cadmium yellow. This previously unseen oeuvre is considered to be one of Yeats’ masterpieces and visitors to The Model will have a unique opportunity to see it this coming February.

Arguably Ireland’s greatest 20th century painter, Yeats’ work underwent a massive shift throughout the 1920s. In the early part of the decade his style was firmly rooted in reality, however a marked change occurred which led to the wildly apocalyptic visions and romanticism of his later period.
The exhibition is co-curated by Brian O’Doherty, the internationally acclaimed artist, critic and theorist who knew Yeats in his final years and has written extensively about the painter.

The exhibition will open on Sunday 06 February and will run until June 5th 2011. The Outsider encompasses a series of curator’s tours and other educational events.

A very special open conversation between Brian O’Doherty and former Yeats Curator at The National Gallery of Ireland Dr. Hilary Pyle will mark the opening of the exhibition on Saturday, February 5th at 5pm. This discussion is free of charge however place are limited so early booking is advised.

The Model will also be holding a series of free children's art workshops for a variety of ages, exploring Yeats paintings, commencing on Sunday February 6th. These workshops are free, though must be booked with The Model in advance on 071-914 1405 as places are strictly limited. Visit www.themodel.ie for a full workshop schedule.

The exhibition is supported by the PEACE III Programme, managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by Sligo County Council on behalf of Sligo Peace & Reconciliation Partnership Committee.

Jack B. Yeats: The Outsider
Images of paintings included in the exhibition

1. They Love Me, 1950
Oil on board
35.5 x 46
Private Collection courtesy of Karen Reihill Fine Art

2. The Two Travellers, 1942
Oil on canvas
91.5 x 122
© Tate, London, 2010

3. Man In a Room Thinking, 1947
Oil on panel
23 x 35.5
Private Collection

4. A Horseman Enter a Town at Night, 1948
Oil on canvas
61 x 91.5
Private Collection
5. The Funeral of Harry Boland, 1922
oil on canvas
61 x 91.5
The Niland Collection
Image courtesy of The Model Home of The Niland Collection

6. Communicating with Prisoners, c. 1924
Oil on canvas
46 x 62 cm
The Niland Collection
Image courtesy of The Model Home of The Niland Collection

Further Details
Brian O’Doherty is an internationally celebrated artist, historian and critic. Born in Ireland in 1928 and initially trained as a doctor, O’Doherty developed a friendship with Jack Yeats as he studied medicine and nurtured this friendship up until Yeats’ death in Dublin. In 1961, O’Doherty moved to New York, where his art career developed in the burgeoning conceptual art scene. In his work, he investigates limits of perception, language, serial systems, and identity. O’Doherty invented a number of artist-personas as a means of pulling politics into his practice more forcibly. His most notable alias was Patrick Ireland, adopted in protest against the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972, active throughout the subsequent Troubles in Northern Ireland, and laid to rest in 2008. O’Doherty’ critical writing has influenced a generation of artists and museum historians. He has written extensively on many artists as well tacked issues of exhibiting, museum space and art and ideology.

Jack B Yeats was the youngest son of the portrait painter John Butler Yeats and the brother of the writer William Butler Yeats. Though he was born in London, Jack spent most of his childhood in Sligo in the care of his maternal grandparents. It was a place that influenced him deeply and he later said that every painting he produced “had a thought of Sligo in it”.

Arguably Ireland’s greatest 20th century painter, Yeats’ early paintings were in watercolour and he was over thirty by the time he began to work regularly in oils. For years his style remained essentially conservative, but in the mid-1920s a profound change began to take place. Yeats’s handling grew much freer, his forms were defined by brushstrokes rather than by line, his colours grew richer and more luminous and his earlier realism gradually gave way to a moody, intimate and highly personal romanticism.

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