Four Elements

Mainie Jellett (1897 – 1944)

  • Artist
    Mainie Jellett
  • Title
    Four Elements
  • Date
    N.D.
  • Dimensions
    41 × 52cm
  • Medium
    Gouache on paper
  • Collection
    Niland Collection
  • Provenance
    Bequest Cooke-Collis in 1973
Description

Mainie Jellett was one of the most significant artists in twentieth-century Irish art. Along with her friend Evie Hone, she is credited with introducing Modernist abstraction to Ireland. Born in Dublin into an Anglo-Irish family, Jellett studied in Dublin and in London, under Walter Sickert, before she followed Hone to Paris in 1920. Initially they worked in the studio of André Lhote where they were taught to abstract from nature along cubist lines. Wishing to experiment further the two friends sought out Albert Gleizes and persuaded him to teach them his theories of Cubist abstraction. Hone and Jellett soon became involved in Gleizes’ experiments to create abstract art through the translation and rotation of shapes. By introducing a sense of movement and rhythm into his compositions Gleizes hoped to imbue his art with a spiritual dimension which he felt was lacking in modern art.

Celtic art fascinated Gleizes and his Irish pupils were well positioned to introduce elements of Celtic decoration into their abstract art. Four Elements suggests the influence of the manuscript illumination of the four Evangelists from the Book of Kells and reveals how Jellett combined Celtic and Cubist influences to create images that are both abstract and religious.

Written by Riann Coulter

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