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Surrealist Ireland: the Archaic the Modern and the Marvellous

Barber, FC (2017) Surrealist Ireland: the Archaic the Modern and the Marvellous. In: A Companion to Modern Art. Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken NJ. ISBN 978-1-118-63984-9

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Abstract

This essay has a dual focus: the representation of Ireland in Surrealism and the significance of Surrealism for Irish artists. The redrawn Surrealist map of the world (1929) gave Ireland a prominent position while Irish writers such as Swift and Synge played an important role in the formation of Surrealist ideas of the marvellous from an early stage. The disjuncture of notions of the archaic and the modern also informed the ways that Irish artists engaged with Surrealist strategies in their work. Relationships between the marvellous, the archaic, the modern and notions of femininity are examined in the work of Colin Middleton and Leonora Carrington mid 20th century, and in the more recent practice of Alice Maher. A restaged Surrealist inquiry by Gerard Byrne also problematizes relationships of archaic and modern with relevance for gender politics in Ireland.

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