Jack Butler Yeats; Assembled Memories
Thu. 28 Sep. 2023 – Sat. 27 Jan. 2024
“No one creates. The artist assembles memories.”
Jack Butler Yeats
Jack Butler Yeats (1871-1957) is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed 20th century artists. The Niland Collection, housed at The Model, comprises a large holding of his work across the many phases of his career - from early pen and ink illustrations, through his water colour period (1898-1910), to his work from the 1920s onwards, which is executed primarily in oil paints.
Yeats was a member of one of Ireland’s most accomplished artistic families. His father was the painter John Butler Yeats (1839-1922); and his siblings William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Susan Mary Yeats (1866-1949), and Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (1868-1940), were acclaimed creative talents in literature, visual art, education and publishing. Unlike his brother and sisters, Jack grew up in Sligo in the care of his maternal grandparents Elizabeth & William Pollexfen. From an early age the young artist developed a strong interest in the drama and activity of the community and social life he experienced in Sligo.
His movement into oil paint as his primary medium brought about a convergence of his ideas, materials and technique, that saw the artist flourish creatively over a prolonged period of time. His initial work in oil is realistic in style and focuses on depictions of contemporary life – with a particular eye to political events and those who lived on the margins of society. From the mid 1920s, his work becomes freer and more expressive in style, to the point where the presentation of reality, gives way to the expression of emotion through the physicality of paint. The characters he first encountered in Sligo – the sailor, the street seller, the clown, the balladeer - are the figures who populate his painted universe throughout the entirety of his career. Though in his later paintings, which are charged with pathos, these figures are imbued with a more metaphysical significance.
The exhibition continues until the end of January 2024.
Image credits: Jack B. Yeats, Leaving the Far Point, 1946, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of The Model, home of The Niland Collection.