IRELAND'S TOP ARTISTS
Who's Who in Contemporary Art in Ireland
Welcome to Our Directory of Contemporary Irish Artists
Here, we profile a wide range of new and emerging artists in a variety of media, from traditional painting, sculpture, ceramics, and photography, to more modern forms such as installation, and conceptualism. It's a counterweight to our other articles on established names like Francis Bacon and Louis le Brocquy, whose works are among the most expensive Irish paintings, and it's a great excuse to display new works of Irish art to private and corporate collectors.
With the Irish
art market becoming more competitive due to the economic downturn,
Check out the biographies of the painters, sculptors and other creative practitioners listed below, see samples of their work, and then visit their websites. You'll be amazed at the quality of their art.
For the evolution of visual arts
in Ireland, see: History of Irish Art and
Questions About Irish Art.
Contemporary Art Movements: A Brief Guide
Here is a short outline of the major styles and schools of modernist art in Europe and America during the past 40 years. For further details, see: Contemporary Art Movements.
Conceptualism (1960s onwards)
Derived from Dada and early 20th century avant-garde art, exemplified by Marcel Duchamp, this movement is based on the principle that art is a 'concept' rather than a material object. That is to say, the 'idea' that a work represents is considered its essential component, not the work itself. Important exponents of Conceptualism include Sol LeWitt, Joseph Beuys, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Eva Hesse, Jenny Holzer, Joseph Kosuth, Barbara Kruger, and Lawrence Weiner. Other postmodernist artists associated with the movement include Mel Bochner, Hanne Darboven, Agnes Denes, Jan Dibbets, Hans Haacke, On Kawara and Les Levine.
Performance (Early 1960s onwards)
Inspired by Conceptualism, Dada, Futurism and Bauhaus, Performance art combines theatre with visual arts. This "artform" includes "happenings" by individual artists, as well as "events" typically involving groups, and can also incorporate a number of other media or activities, including video, installation, dance, music and so on. Famous Performance artists include the French postmodernist Yves Klein (1928-62) - see also: Yves Klein's Postmodernist art (1956-62) - the Swiss kinetic artist and sculptor Jean Tinguely, the British duo Gilbert & George (b.1943/2) and the German contemporary installation artist Joseph Beuys (1921-86). In addition, performance artists can often be seen at many of the Best Contemporary Art Festivals around Europe.
Installation (1960s onwards)
Dating from Surrealist events and shows created by Marcel Duchamp and others, installation art involves the creation of a compelling "environment", often in the form of a room-size "work of art". Famous exponents of installation art include Bruce Nauman, Joseph Beuys, Rebecca Horn, Christian Boltanski, Richard Wilson and Tracey Emin.
Land Art (1960s onwards)
Part of a reaction against commercialism, it encompassed small-scale installations (indoor and outdoor) as well as massive earthworks. Its pioneering champion was Robert Smithson (1938-73). Other postmodernist artists associated with the movement include: Gunther Uecker (b.1930), Robert Morris (b.1931), Walter De Maria (b.1935), Christo and Jeanne-Claude (both b.1935), Hans Haacke (b.1936), Jan Dibbets (b.1941), James Turrell (b.1943), Michael Heizer (b.1944), Richard Long (b.1945), and Andy Goldsworthy (b.1956).
Minimalism (1960s onwards)
Minimalism or Minimal Art - a form of "pure" abstraction - flourished in America during the second half of the 1960s. It is characterized by extreme simplicity of form and a deliberate lack of expressive content. Important Minimalist painters include Ad Reinhardt (1913-67) Ellsworth Kelly (b.1923), as well as Kenneth Noland (b.1924), and Frank Stella (b.1936); sculptors include Carl Andre (b.1935), Donald Judd (1928-94), Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), Robert Morris (b.1931), Richard Serra (b.1939) and Tony Smith (1912-80). See also Op-Art, the movement led in Britain by Bridget Riley.
Photo-Realism (1960s, 70s)
Photorealism is a style of highly detailed "life-like" painting and sculpture, inspired by Pop-art, which emerged during the late 1960s. Also called super-realism or hyper-realism, its leading members include Richard Estes and Chuck Close, as well as Robert Bechtle, Audrey Flack, Ralph Goings and Irishman John Doherty. Super-realist sculptors include Duane Hanson (1925-96), John de Andrea (b.1941), Carole Feuerman (b.1945), Ron Mueck and Robert Gober.
A conceptualist-type movement led by a group of young radical French abstract artists (c.1966-72), it aimed to detach painting from its symbolic and romantic attributes, and reduce it to its bare essentials - that is, its canvas and frame. Members included Andre-Pierre Aarnal, Vincent Bioules, Louis Cane, Marc Devade, Daniel Dezeuze, Noel Dolla, Toni Grand, Bernard Pages, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, Andre Valensi, and Claude Viallat.
Post-Minimalism (1971 onwards)
A term first used in 1971, referring to a style of contemporary art in which how something is done and communicated becomes as relevant as the artwork itself. An early form, known as "Process Art", employed materials which changed (eg. evaporated or deteriorated) without any involvement by the artist. In truth, Post-Minimalism in general is somewhat difficult to define - see it as conceptualism meets postmodernist art. Leading Post-Minimalist artists, include Hesse, Richard Serra and Hans Haake.
New Subjectivity (1970s)
Called "Nouvelle Subjectivité" after the name given to a 1976 exhibition at the Pompidou Museum of Modern Art in Paris, this contemporary style of painting favoured a return to reality and away from abstract and conceptual art, based on careful observation of the real world. Artists associated with this movement were Yorkshireman David Hockney and the American R B Kitaj, as well as European artists like Samuel Buri, Olivier O Olivier, Christian Zeimert, Michel Parre and Sam Szafran.
Graffiti Art (1970s onwards)
Known by various names like "Spraycan Art", "Aerosol Art", and "Writing", Graffiti was an underground urban artform, connected with the wider hip-hop cultural movement, which began on New York subway trains and spread to various other US cities during the 1970s and 1980s. During the late 1980s, leading graffiti artists (eg. Jean-Michel Basquiat) began exhibiting in regular galleries. See also our biography of the postmodernist graffiti artist Banksy (b.1973-4). For more, see: Graffiti Art.
Transavanguardia (1979 onwards)
"Beyond the avant-garde" was a term used to describe a figurative style of painting, referencing the Renaissance, which was adopted by Italian artists during the 1980s and 1990s. These painters included Enzo Cucchi, Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, and Mimmo Paladino. NOTE: For an interpretation of works by 20th century painters, see: Analysis of Modern Paintings (1800-2000).
Deconstructivism (1980s, 90s)
Deconstructivism is a highly creative (occasionally bizarre) style of postmodernist architecture, personnified by the avant-garde design of the Canadian-born architect Frank O. Gehry (b.1929), best-known for his design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Fine Art Photography
The 1980s, 1990s and early-21st century witnessed the development of fine art photography at the hands of several lens-based artists, notably Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89), Nan Goldin (b.1953), Cindy Sherman (b.1954) and Andreas Gursky (b.1955). For more camera artists, see: Greatest Photographers (1880-on). But see: Is Photography Art?
Despite the move towards abstraction, which gathered pace from 1907 onwards, portraiture remained a vibrant form of representational art. And with the advent of photography together with the growth of billboards and mass-market magazines, photographic portraits (including fashion shots) took centre stage. Among the 20th-century's top portrait photographers are: Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002), Norman Parkinson (1913-90), Irving Penn (1917-2009), Diane Arbus (1923-1971), Richard Avedon (1923-2004), David Bailey (b.1938), Annie Leibovitz (b.1949) and Steve McCurry (b.1950).
Neo-Expressionism (1980 onwards)
This was a broad movement which emerged about 1980, in response to the intellectualism of styles like Minimalism and Conceptualism. Neo-Expressionism revitalized fine art painting and sculpture with strong colours, as well as elements from Mannerism, Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Surrealism, and Pop-Art. In Europe, it included works by: German artists like Georg Baselitz, Jorg Immendorf, Anselm Kiefer, AR Penk, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, the Neue Wilden (referring back to 1900s Fauvism/"wild beasts"), Figuration Libre in France, and Jenny Saville in Britain. In America, Neo-Expressionists included Philip Guston (1913-80), Julian Schnabel, David Salle and others. Other artists loosely associated with this contemporary approach include Louise Bourgeois, Leon Golub, Cy Twombly (1928-2011), as well as the British artist Lucian Freud.
Britart (1980s, 90s)
This traditionally refers to the body of work produced during the 1980s and 90s by a group of painters, sculptors, conceptual and installation artists - mostly former students of Goldsmiths College in London - known collectively as Young British Artists. Benefiting from substantial patronage from Charles Saatchi, the group's leading members included Turner Prize winner Damien Hirst (noted for The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living), Tracey Emin (noted for her installation "My Bed"), James Rielly (portrait artist), Keith Coventry (abstract painter), Simon Callery (urbanscapes), Martin Maloney (Expressionist), Gary Hume (Minimalist), Richard Patterson (abstract), Fiona Rae (Pop-art style), Marcus Harvey (Expressionist figuration), Ian Davenport (geometric abstract painting), Glenn Brown (painter in De Kooning style Expressionism, and sculptor), Jenny Saville (Neo-Expressionist-style Rubenesque nudes). See also: Turner Prize Winners. For details of London's top museum of contemporary visual art, see: Saatchi Gallery.
Neo-Pop Art (late 1980s onwards)
This movement was a revival of the 1960s themes of American Pop-Art, employing easily recognizable objects, as well as icons and symbols from contemporary popular culture of the time, it also referenced Dada and conceptualism. Prominent neo-pop artists include Jeff Koons, Ashley Bickerton, Alan McCollum, Haim Steinbach, Jenny Holzer, Cady Noland and Daniel Edwards, along with Young British Artists Damien Hirst, Gary Hume and Gavin Turk, among others.
Other Contemporary Visual Arts Movements
In addition to the above postmodernist schools, the last few decades have witnessed a number of other contemporary artist groups and styles. These include:
Art (late 1960s onwards)
For more about contemporary and postmodernist painters and sculptors, see: Visual Arts Encyclopedia