Visual Arts in Ireland
Art and Culture of 32 Counties of Munster, Leinster, Connacht & Ulster.

Ireland: Visual Arts


Irish Cultural Heritage
The Visual Arts & Crafts Infrastructure In Ireland: Lead Agencies
Irish Visual Artists: National Organizations, Other Bodies
Irish Art Museums & Galleries
Visual Arts Education
Irish Fine Arts Auctioneers
Visual Arts In the Irish Provinces: History, Famous Artists
The History of Visual Arts in Ireland
Irish Art Into the 21st Century
What Has Been the Greatest Influence on Visual Art in Ireland?
What is the Future For Visual Art In Ireland?
Importance of the Internet For 21st Century Visual Arts In Ireland


Newgrange Megalithic Tomb
A UN World Heritage Site, and a
centre of Neolithic art and culture.

For details of exhibitions & shows
in galleries across Ireland, see:
Irish Art Exhibitions.

Irish Cultural Heritage

Famous as a land of saints and scholars, Ireland is unique among the nations of Europe due to the strength of its pagan Celtic culture as well as its strong Christian heritage. These diverse influences have long been reflected in the visual arts across Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster, and even today inspire a great deal of contemporary Irish painting, sculpture, ceramics, stained glass and high quality crafts. Beginning with the Neolithic stone carvings at Newgrange, followed by the masterpieces of Celtic Iron Age metalwork, the glorious illuminated gospel manuscripts and the High Cross sculptures of the first Millennia, Irish visual art has made significant contributions to European civilization.

Broighter Gold Collar, an example
of the La Tene style of Celtic art,
found in County Derry, now in the
National Museum of Ireland.

For answers popular questions, see:
Irish Art Questions.

For a list of monuments of
cultural or artistic interest, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland.
Archeological Monuments Ireland.

And while perhaps lacking the acclaimed international stature of writers like WB Yeats, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett, a number of famous Irish artists (eg. painters like William Orpen and Francis Bacon; sculptors like Rowan Gillespie) have established worldwide reputations in the global art market.

The Visual Arts & Crafts Infrastructure in Ireland: Lead Agencies

Irish art is supported by numerous bodies, both national and local. Government policy on art and culture is coordinated by the Irish Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, whose role is to promote the practice and appreciation of all the creative arts, and to preserve their cultural assets for the future - including a number of national art museums and libraries in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and elsewhere. It is advised and assisted in this task by two subsidiary bodies: The Irish Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon), an autonomous agency which promotes art across the provinces, and Culture Ireland (Cultúr Na hÉireann), a body that supports Irish Artists and cultural activities abroad. Cross-border cultural projects are organized in conjunction with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.


National funding for the arts is mainly distributed via the Arts Council, and makes use of innovative fundraising systems like the nationwide Percent For Art Scheme and the National Lottery.

On a local level, each county of Ireland has a full-time arts officer whose task is to promote visual, performance and literary art throughout the area. Some counties have excellent online arts information services, while others are still upgrading to this new medium.

The lead agency for the Irish crafts industry is the Crafts Council of Ireland (CCoI). Unlike the Arts Council, which is an autonomous semi-state body funded by the Department of Arts, the CCoI is a limited company funded at home, via Enterprise Ireland, by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. It also supports and showcases Irish craftsmen and women at overseas events, such as the recent 15th Annual Exposition of Sculptural Objects & Functional Art (SOFA) in Chicago.

For more, see: Irish Art Organizations.

Irish Visual Artists: National Organizations

There is no single official body which represents painters, sculptors and other creative practitioners in the 32 counties, or the Republic. There are however several artist-run institutions and organizations which seek to represent the interests of differing groups of artists.

At the highest level, Aosdana (from the Gaelic words "aos dána" meaning, people of the arts) is a select group of Irish artists who have each produced a body of work that is considered original and creative by other members. Membership of Aosdána, set by the Arts Council of Ireland, is limited to 250 living artists, either born in Ireland or resident for five years. The main artistic disciplines represented are the visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture etc.) literature and music, although architecture and choreography are also represented. Members of Aosdana are eligible for a government stipend.

Royal Hibernian Academy
Another influential institution - one with a long history of support for Irish painters and sculptors - is the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), an artist-based body founded in 1823 along the lines of the London Royal Academy. Membership of the Academy, a highly prestigious honour, is by election of other Academicians. Candidates may first be awarded Associate membership (ARHA), before full membership (RHA). Although not always conspicuous, historically, for its recognition of women artists, or those who deviated from the canons of conventional art, the RHA has made an enormous contribution to Ireland's fine arts heritage - not least through its annual exhibitions - and its list of members and former members reads like a Who's Who of Famous Irish Artists. Its counterpart in the North is the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts (RUA), originally the Belfast Art Society and from 1930 the Ulster Academy of Arts - the Royal being added when the British monarch became its patron.

Royal Dublin Society
Founded in 1731 as a benevolent institution, the Royal Dublin Society (Cumann Ríoga Bhaile Atha Cliath) began by promoting the arts through its exhibitions and free schools during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, assisting many impoverished but talented art students in the process. Political squabbles during the 19th century led to its fine art educational facilities being hived off, since when it has located to its present premises in Ballsbridge, Dublin, where it operates as a major centre for shows, exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events, including visual arts. As a result, its direct influence on the development of Irish art is now minimal.

Visual Artists Ireland
Previously called the Sculptors' Society of Ireland, Visual Artists Ireland (VAI) is an organization for professional visual artists from Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster, funded by the Arts Council of the Republic (An Chomhairle Ealaíon) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. It has a membership of more than 1,200 Irish artists, including those working in painting, drawing, sculpture, graphics, photography, printmaking, ceramics, stained glass, precious metals, plus modern art forms like assemblage, collage, installation, conceptual, performance, land and video art, as well as film and animation. VAI's facilities, services and resources are communicated to members through its twice weekly email newsletter.

The National Sculpture Factory
Located in Cork and established in 1989 in response to the growing need among sculptors for affordable studio space, the National Sculpture Factory (NSF) offers workshop spaces and technical assistance, as well as a range of equipment not normally available in the average art studio. Funded by the Arts Council, the NSF also runs an Irish and international program of artistic commissions and artist residencies.

Other Visual Artist Organizations

There are numerous other smaller bodies involving artists in Ireland. They include:

Water Colour Society of Ireland (WCSI)
Founded in 1870, the Watercolour Society of Ireland now has a national collection housed in Limerick University. It hosts an annual Water Colour Exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy's Gallagher Gallery, in Ely Place.

Ulster Watercolour Society (UWS)
The Ulster Watercolour Society was founded in 1976 as the North's counterpart to the WCSI.

Ulster Society of Women Artists (USWA)
Founded by Gladys McCabe in 1957, the Ulster Society of Women Artists (USWA) is an active participant in the visual arts in Northern Ireland. It organizes numerous exhibitions, workshops, and other related activities.

Art Museums & Galleries

Ireland is home to several world class museums and galleries which are located around the country. These include:

National Museum of Ireland (Dublin)
Founded in 1890, the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) (Ard-Mhúsaem na hÉireann) is housed in four separate locations: three in Dublin and one in County Mayo. Exhibits in the main NMI building in Kildare Street, Dublin, include early Celtic gold metalwork, illuminated religious manuscripts and numerous church treasures from the medieval era in Ireland, including the Viking age. In addition, the museum hosts special displays of artifacts from Egypt, and the Roman world.
National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin)
Founded in 1854, the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI) (Ghailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann) is home to the state collection of Irish and European art, including paintings, drawings and sculpture, including a range of Old Master paintings, as well as a collection of watercolours, drawings, miniatures, and prints. Among the Irish artworks featured are works of stained glass by Evie Hone and Harry Clarke (stained glass), as well as history paintings, portraits, genre works and landscapes by painters like: James Barry, Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Francis Danby, Sir John Lavery , Sir William Orpen, Roderic O'Conor, Nathaniel Hone the Elder, Walter Osborne, and William John Leech, to name but a few. Its sculpture collection features copies of Greek statues, portrait busts by Irish sculptors like Cunningham, Foley, Hewetson, Hogan, and Kirk, plus works by Henry Moore and Turnerelli.
Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin)
Opened in 1991, as the successor to the Dublin Metropolitan Gallery of Modern Art, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is Ireland's foremost national art museum for contemporary and abstract art.
Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane
Founded by Sir Hugh Lane in 1908, and previously known as the 'Municipal Gallery of Modern Art', it was recently renamed 'Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, although it is popularly known simply as the Hugh Lane Gallery. Its permanent collection includes paintings by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Corot, Manet, and Millet, as well as Irish painters including Roderic O'Conor, Walter Osborne, Frank O'Meara and John Lavery. A recent addition was the exact reconstruction of Francis Bacon's Reece Mews studio in a separate area of the gallery.
Chester Beatty Library (Dublin)
Founded in Dublin in 1950, the Chester Beatty Library is an art museum and library which houses the unique collection of rare illuminated manuscripts, drawings, miniature paintings, prints and decorative arts formerly owned by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968).
Trinity College Dublin Library
The Trinity College Dublin Library (Coláiste na Tríonóide) is home to numerous rare manuscripts, including one of the dozen or so remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
Crawford Art Gallery (Cork)
Developed in the 19th century by William Horatio Crawford, the Crawford Art Gallery holds a permanent collection of more than 2000 artworks, ranging from 18th century Irish and European painting and sculpture, to printmaking and contemporary installations. The painting collection includes 19th century works by George M W Atkinson, Daniel MacDonald, Daniel Maclise, James Brenan, William Gerard Barry, Edith Somerville, and William Sheehan; along with 20th century works by Paul Henry, Charles Lamb, Michael Power O'Malley, Leo Whelan, Mainie Jellett, James Humbert Craig, Gerard Dillon, Norah McGuinness, and Patrick Hennessy, among many others.
Lewis Glucksman Gallery (Cork)
One of most modern venues of visual art in Ireland, the Lewis Glucksman Gallery is located in its own award-winning building on the campus of University College Cork.
National Self-Portrait Collection (Limerick)
Located at the University of Limerick, the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland consists of over 400 self-portraits by native or resident Irish artists.
Hunt Museum (Limerick)
Based in the restored 18th century Customs House by the River Shannon, the Hunt Museum features one of the largest private collections of antiquities and visual art in Ireland, dating from the prehistoric Neolithic period to the 20th Century.
Limerick City Museum and Gallery of Art
Founded in 1936, the Limerick Art Gallery has a permanent collection containing works by famous Irish artists like Paul Henry, Sean Keating, Jack B. Yeats and the sculptress Dorothy Cross.
Waterford Art Gallery
The Waterford Art Gallery houses one of the oldest and most reputable municipal collections of art in Ireland. Features works by the expressionist Jack B Yeats, the landscape and portrait painter Charles Lamb, and Louis Le Brocquy.
Ulster Museum (Belfast)
Situated in the Botanical Gardens in Belfast, the Ulster Museum of Fine Arts contains a wide spectrum of artifacts and artworks, divided into collections of Fine and Applied Art, Archaeology, Ethnography, Industrial Archaeology, Local History, Botany, Zoology and Geology, as well as artworks and artifacts recovered from the Spanish Armada.
Naughton Gallery at Queen's University (Belfast)
Opened in 2001, the Naughton Gallery at Queens (a registered museum) is one of the best known venues of the Ireland visual arts scene north of the border. Together with Queen's Film Theatre and the annual Belfast Festival, the Naughton Gallery forms part of the university's Culture and Arts Division.

These state-run museums are complemented by a variety of private Irish art galleries throughout the country, hosting regular exhibitions of painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, ceramics, video and installation by emerging as well as established Irish artists.

Visual Arts Education in Ireland

The principal art colleges in Ireland are National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and the Crawford College of Art and Design.

NCAD, which began as an 18th century private drawing school in Dublin, run by Robert West, is the pre-eminent institution of art education in the Republic of Ireland. It offers the largest syllabus of art and design degrees in the State at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Second only to NCAD, the Crawford College of Art and Design was also founded in the 18th century, although it wasn't until James Brenan became headmaster in the 19th century that the Crawford became one of the top art colleges in Ireland.

Visual Arts Auctioneers in Ireland

The leading Irish fine art valuers and auction houses are based in Dublin. The pre-eminent firms include James Adam and Sons (Dublin), de Veres Art Auctions (Dublin), Whyte & Sons (Dublin), Loughlin Bowe (Kilkenny), and John Ross & Company (Belfast). Other auctioneers include: Dolan's (Galway), Morgan O'Driscoll (Cork) and Dublin auctioneer Garret O'Connor. Most deal in objets d'art, furniture, glassware, jewellery, ceramics, and rare manuscripts as well as fine art painting and sculpture.

Visual Arts in the Irish Provinces: History, Famous Artists

Each of Ireland's four regions has its own unique archeological and artistic history, from the earliest prehistoric architecture, Celtic metalwork, religious manuscripts and sculpture, to the most modern contemporary art forms.

The cultural heritage of Leinster, which includes the counties of Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow, begins with the World Heritage neolithic Stone Age complex at Newgrange, in County Meath. The province also boasts several examples of medieval High Cross sculpture, and is home to several priceless illuminated manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow. Leinster's list of world class artists includes the versatile Louis le Brocquy, as well as the modern expressionist Francis Bacon, the Impressionists Walter Osborne and WJ Leech, the academic portraitist William Orpen, the stained glass virtuosi Harry Clarke and Evie Hone, and the abstract landscape artist Tony O'Malley.

The westernmost province in the Republic of Ireland, Connacht includes the counties of Galway, Mayo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo, and is home to Ireland's finest surviving example of pagan monumental art - the Turoe Stone. In more modern times, Connacht has attracted hundreds of outstanding landscape and plein-air painters to its wild Atlantic coastline and unique hinterland. Connacht's two most famous artists are the Impressionist Roderic O'Conor and the great expressionist Jack Butler Yeats, whose brother WB Yeats was buried in the province.

The southern province of Munster (An Mhumhain) includes the counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. Munster is noted for a number of early Celtic art treasures. County Cork was the origin of the Petrie Crown; Limerick was the site of the Ardagh Chalice, while the Derrynaflan Hoard was located in Tipperary. Bursting with numerous fine art venues, Munster has a host of fine painters including Cork artists like Daniel Maclise, Seamus Murphy, Dorothy Cross, John Kingerlee, William Crozier, and Limerick painters like the Romantic Realist Sean Keating and the contemporary artist John Shinnors.

The northerly province of Ireland, Ulster includes the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone - all administered from Belfast - as part of Northern Ireland - and the counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, which are part of the Republic. Ulster's cultural traditions encompass Celtic high cross sculpture, numerous Stone Age tombs as well as connections with the literary Bronte family. Its most famous artists include the great landscape painter Paul Henry, the genre and portrait painter William Conor, the portraitist John Butler Yeats (father of Jack B Yeats), as well as Gladys MacCabe - one of Ireland's most outstanding female painters.

The History of Visual Arts in Ireland

The evolution and development of Irish art has taken place over at least 5,000 years. Although much remains unknown about its early origins and influences, here is a short summary. For more, see: History of Irish Art.

Neolithic Tomb, Newgrange (3300 BCE)
The story of art in Ireland begins with Irish Stone Age carvings found at megaliths such as the Newgrange Passage Tomb and and also the Knowth Megalithic Tomb (c.3200 BCE). For more, see: megalithic art.

Celtic Metalwork and Stone Sculpture (400 BCE - 800 CE)
The next phase of Irish art is associated with Celtic metalwork in gold, bronze and other metals (eg. the great Lunala relics, the Celtic La Tene style Petrie crown), and Celtic designs on the Turoe Stone, and the Broighter Collar. For more information about the Celts and their influence on Irish art styles, see: Celtic Art in Britain and Ireland.

Early Christian Illuminated Manuscripts (c.500-1000)
The Medieval era (c.500 CE onwards) witnessed an amazing Renaissance in early Christian art, which historians refer to as the Hiberno-Saxon style of Insular art. Artistic treasures from this period include the world-renowned series of Irish illuminated manuscripts, the ecclesistical artworks known as the Ardagh Chalice and the Derrynaflan Chalice, and the secular piece of decorative jewellery known as the Tara Brooch. For more about the impact of the Celts on religious art in Ireland, see: Celtic-Style Christian Art.

High Cross Sculpture (c.750-1150)
Around this time (c.750-1150), Ireland saw the emergence of its unique High Cross sculpture - a form of public religious stonework unrivalled in Western European culture during the medieval era. Many of these stone sculptures, themselves modelled on Celtic Crosses, contain engraved designs used by the Celts, such as: Celtic spirals and Celtic interlace.

Stagnation and Occupation (c.1200-1700)
The period 1200-1700 witnessed nothing but political subjugation, unrest and poverty throughout Ireland. As a result, Irish art experienced five centuries of stagnation.

18th Century Visual Arts in Ireland (c.1730-1830)
During this period, new organizations and artists began to appear. Trinity College Dublin had been established in 1592, now the Royal Dublin Society was founded in 1731, followed by the Royal Irish Academy (1785). Irish art schools such as the current National College of Art and Design and the Crawford College of Art and Design were established. The Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) was founded in 1823. New Irish artists began to emerge and establish themselves, notably in the genres of landscape painting and portraiture. Unfortunately, many of the best - eg. James Barry (1741-1806), Martin Archer Shee (1769–1850) and Daniel Maclise (1806–1870) - were obliged to emigrate to London in order to develop their careers. See: 18th Century Irish Artists.

19th Century Visual Arts in Ireland (c.1830-1900)
After the catastrophe of the famine, 19th century Irish art witnessed the appearance of such Irish master painters as Frank O'Meara (1853-88), Richard Thoman Moynan (1856-1906), Walter Osborne (1859–1903), Roderic O'Conor (1860–1940) and the erudite Norman Garstin (1847-1926), all of whom spent long periods on the Continent absorbing the plein-air methods of the Impressionists. Meanwhile, the portraitists John Lavery (1856-1941) and William Orpen (1878-1931) moved to London to establish their careers. Irish sculpture was also well served by artists like John Hogan (1800-58), John Henry Foley (1818-74), John Hughes (1865-1941), although many sculptors were also forced to seek commissions in Rome or London. See: 19th Century Irish Artists.

20th Century Visual Arts in Ireland (c.1900-80)
By the end of the century, partly coinciding with the Celtic Arts Revival, a new generation of Irish visual artists began to emerge including Jack B Yeats (1871–1957), Beatrice Elvery (Lady Glenavy) (1881-1970), Sean Keating (1889-1977), Maurice MacGonigal (1900-1979) and Sean O'Sullivan (1906-1964), as well as the more internationally minded Mainie Jellett (1897-1944) and Evie Hone (1894-1955).

After the birth of the new State in 1921, 20th century Irish art was strengthened in numerous ways, not least by greater investment in education and public arts facilities (eg. the Dublin Metropolitan Gallery of Modern Art, founded after Hugh Lane). However, a degree of isolation and cultural stagnation became evident - as reflected in the dispute between the traditionalists versus the more avant-garde Dublin artists: a dispute which culminated in the formation of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (1943) to provide an alternative showcase to the RHA for contemporary Irish painting. More recent landmarks include the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, which greatly impeded the development of an all-Ireland approach to art and culture.

20th century Irish sculpture fared no better. From the early 19th century to roughly 1950, most Irish sculptors devoted the bulk of their energy to commemorating deceased bishops, politicians, soldiers and rebels. Not until the second half of the 20th century did the subject matter widen sufficiently to permit real opportunities for individual expression. See also: 20th Century Irish Artists.

Irish Art: Late 20th Century - Early 21st Century (c.1980-2008)

Despite the political and economic problems of the latter part of the 20th century, the Irish fine art market continued to flourish throughout the island, as evidenced by the growing number of record prices achieved by Irish artists in auctioneers sales rooms. In addition, during the 1990s, new funding and support structures for professional painters and sculptors, along with the development of new art galleries and commercial collections, created a new climate of cultural opportunity and awareness. The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) was opened in Dublin, and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in Cork City, while three centres were established to support sculpture, including the National Sculpture Factory in Cork. At the same time, Irish art organizations like the Arts Council began to pay particular attention to developing public access to the arts in towns like Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Tralee, Listowel, Mullingar, Limerick, Galway, Castlebar, Sligo, Monaghan, Drogheda and Dublin, and most local authorities now employ specialist Arts Officers. In addition, new legislation was introduced which abolished tax on the artistic income of full-time artists. This measure considerably improved the financial position of many indigenous painters and sculptors. It also helped to attract numerous artists from overseas, thus strengthening the visual arts skill-base in the country. See also: Contemporary Irish Artists.

Also in the 1990s, thanks largely to the National Lottery and the Percent For Art levy imposed on all major building projects in the Republic, public art became a regular feature of the Irish landscape - the most notable example being "The Spire of Dublin", a granite and stainless steel architectural sculpture known as 'the spike', designed by Ian Ritchie RA.

The 21st century began well for the Irish art market. World record prices were set at Sothebys and Christie's auctions for Jack B. Yeats, Willliam Orpen, John Lavery and William Scott (1913-89), Louis le Brocquy (1916-2012), Sean Scully (b.1945), and Nathaniel Hone (The Elder) (1718-84), among others. Meantime works by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) smashed all records for contemporary painting. (For more details, see: Most Expensive Irish Paintings.)

For a personal view of the top contemporary painters from the 32 counties of Ireland, see Best Irish Artists.

Recession (2008 onwards)
Unfortunately, the health and status of the visual arts in Ireland has suffered a severe set-back in the wake of the recent international recession. Art sales fell significantly in 2008, again in 2009 and the Irish art market is unlikely to show any improvement in 2010. At the same time, commercial building - the basis for the Percent For Art scheme - is massively down, and the overall art budget has been reduced by 18.5 percent. Already 67 percent of artists earn less than €10,000 per annum from their creative work: a situation which is likely to worsen before returning to normal.

What Has Been the Greatest Influence on Visual Art in Ireland?

Historically, the greatest single influence (both positive and negative) on Irish art has been geography. For example, the relatively sheltered position of the country ensured that Ireland was the only Western European country to avoid Romanization, thus permitting the full development of Celtic style design traditions. It also facilitated the early growth of Christianity as well as the unique Irish monastic culture (which duly spread to England and the Continent), both of which (along with Celtic craftwork) were key factors in the Irish Art Renaissance of 500-800 CE. Ireland's island status has also helped to inculcate a strong national identity, without which the country's artistic traditions would surely have been subsumed within those of its more populous neighbours.

On the negative side, Ireland's "sheltered" position has also contributed to the country's isolation from European trends and developments in all the visual arts. In addition, it contributed to the immense power of a Roman Catholic Church which had no hesitation in blocking artistic as well as social reform. As a result, even after Irish Independence, many writers (eg. James Joyce and Samuel Beckett) and visual artists (eg. Francis Bacon) preferred to practice their creativity outside Ireland. In addition, it was only in the second half of the 20th century that museums and galleries were allowed to widen their acquisitions policies to include modern works, previously banned or frowned upon. Arguably, all this retarded the developed and appreciation of art in Ireland by many decades. Even today, for instance, Irish art-collectors appear to place an unreasonably high value on Irish painting, compared to works by "foreign" artists.

What is the Future For Visual Art in Ireland?

On the positive side, there is no lack of artistic talent in the 32 counties. Irish artists continue to excel at home and abroad in all media and genres. Moreover, the country's "green" image, neutral status, and zero-tax structure for artistic income, should continue to hold and attract high quality artists.

On the negative side, as in other countries, there has been a detectable slide towards conceptual and other non-representational art forms. So far, this tendency has gone largely unchallenged - indeed, judging by recent Graduate Art Shows in Ireland, it continues to be encouraged. However, given the meltdown in the international contemporary art market, as well as the rise in popularity of traditional painting - as practised by many Eastern European schools - this conceptual/abstract approach may prove to be a long term weakness. One hopes that the Irish arts establishment, as well as the educational authorities at NCAD and the Crawford College of Art and Design, have the situation under review.

The Importance of the Internet For 21st Century Visual Arts in Ireland

A critical factor for the future of Irish art in the twenty-first century will be how artists, curators and galleries (among others) manage to exploit the Internet. For example, at present, Irish art museums are way behind their international competitors in this regard - it is still not possible to view the major Irish collections of art online. By comparison, many American and European museums offer a wealth of online educational resources. Given the huge wealth generated by the Irish economy during the 1990s and 2000s, and also the significant contributions to the arts from the National Lottery and Percent For Art scheme, it seems strange that Ireland lags so far behind in this critical area.

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