John Luke RUA (1906-75)

John Luke 1The Irish landscape artist and figurative painter John Luke was born in Belfast and worked in a shipyard and Flax Mill before taking night classes at the Belfast School of Art. There, he won a scholarship and the following year a prize in a Royal Dublin Society competition which led him to travel to London to study fine art painting, drawing and sculpture at the Slade School of Art under Henry Tonks. The artists Tom Carr and F. E. McWilliam were his contemporaries at the time. After exhibiting at the Redfern Galleries in London, he completed a mural for a travel company, spending the proceeds on a trip to Paris. After this, he took evening classes in figure painting at the Westminster School of Art under Walter Bayes and showed at the Leger Gallery.

In 1931 he returned to Belfast. By now, landscape painting was his dominant interest. In 1933 he exhibited with the Northern Ireland Guild of Artists. More exhibitions followed, in Belfast and at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in Dublin. In 1938 he assisted in the painting of a frieze for the Ulster Pavilion in the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow. The following year he represented Northern Ireland at the New York World Fair. During WWII Luke stopped painting for a spell and retired to a cottage in County Armagh, earning his living by teaching art at Manor House school.

(c) Neville McKee; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

In 1946, Luke had a solo exhibition of his oil and tempera paintings at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery: a total of 85 artworks including four sculptures. In 1947 John Luke’s work was included at an exhibition of noted Ulster artists in London. Then, in 1948, the Northern Ireland Council For Encouragement of Music and The Arts (CEMA), the forerunner of the arts council of Northern Ireland, held a retrospective for Luke in Belfast. In 1951, Luke painted a mural for the Festival of Britain in his characteristically, formalized style. There is another mural of his in the Masonic Hall, Rosemary Street, Belfast, and an oil The Old Callan Bridge in the County Museum, Armagh. From 1953 he lectured at Belfast College of Art.

John Luke spent his final years – after the death of his mother – in relative poverty in a flat in Duncairn Gardens, Belfast, and died in the Mater Hospital in 1975. The following year, the Arts Council of Ireland mounted an extensive exhibition of his work at the Ulster Museum and the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin. His artworks appear in several public and private collections, including: Ulster Museum, Belfast; County Museum, Armagh; Queen’s University Belfast; and many more.

The highest price paid at auction for a painting by John Luke was recorded in 1999, when his landscape, entitled The Bridge, was sold at Christie’s, in London, for £41,500.

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Sean McSweeney

Sean McSweeney 2The Irish landscape artist Sean McSweeney, one of Ireland’s leading painters, was born in Dublin in 1935. Despite not attending art college or taking any classes in painting, he began exhibiting his pictures regularly in the 1960s, in the Irish Exhibition of Living Art and the Oireachtas. McSweeney has also had five one-man shows at the Dawson Gallery in Dublin (from 1965 until 1977), ten solo shows at the Taylor Galleries in Dublin, and numerous others at the Kenny Gallery in Galway, Vanguard Gallery in Cork and at the Fenderesky Gallery, Belfast.

McSweeney participated in many group exhibitions of Irish painting including: Celtic Triangle (1971); The Delighted Eye, Earlham Street Gallery, London (1980); 14th Cagnes-Sur-Mer Painting Festival (1985); Contemporary Artists from Ireland, Austin Desmond Fine Art Gallery, London (1990); Painting Landscape, Fenderesky Gallery, Belfast (2001).

In 1990, Sean McSweeney had a retrospective exhibition organized by the Galway Arts Festival which travelled to the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallagher Gallery, Dublin and other venues in Ireland. In 1996, McSweeney had a two-person exhibition with sculptor Conor Fallon in the RHA Gallagher Gallery and the Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo.

Sean McSweeneySean McSweeney’s landscape painting focuses on the phenomenon of the bog pool – deep rectangular incisions in the surface of the bog that are caused by the practice of harvesting turf – and the rugged Sligo coastline. He lives and works in Ballyconnell, Sligo, from where most of his artistic inspiration derives.

During his career as a painter, Sean McSweeney has won numerous awards including: the Oireachtas Award (1968), the George Campbell Travelling Award (1980), the Carroll Award, IELA (1987), a Winner’s Medal for the Claremorris Open Exhibition (1987-8), and in 1989 he was awarded Bonn An Oireachtas.

He is a member of Aosdana and his work is represented in the collections of the Arts Council of Ireland; the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork; the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin; the Ulster Museum, Belfast; Aer Lingus; Art Council of Northern Ireland; Dublin City University; Sligo Museum and Art Gallery; Trinity College Dublin.

The auction record for a work by Sean McSweeney was set in 2007, when his landscape painting, entitled Summer Fields, was sold at James Adams, in Dublin, for €18,000.

Maya Kulenovic

shrapnelMaya Kulenovic’s works have been exhibited in over twenty solo exhibitions and more than forty group shows and art fairs in Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, USA, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. Her paintings can be found in significant collections around the world.

She studied art at London University of the Arts (at Chelsea College of Art and Design) in London, England (Masters of Arts 1998), Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto (AOCAD Honours, 1997) and Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul (1992-1995). She is also an alumna of London Goodenough College in London, England (1997- 98).

Maya Kulenovic is a Canadian painter, currently based in Toronto. She was born in 1975 in Sarajevo (SR Bosnia and Herzegovina), SFR Yugoslavia.

The above & all the images here were taken from Maya’s website: http://www.mayakulenovic.com

Many more works and much more information about this fascinating & talented artist are to be found there.

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Francis Tansey

Francis Tansey 2The contemporary Irish abstract painter Francis Tansey was born in Dublin in 1959. He studied at the National College of Art and Design in (1978-1983). Specialising in abstract art, in 1985 he became the first Artist in Residence, at Butler Gallery, County kilkenny, where his brightly coloured geometric acrylic painting caused great interest.

When the internationally acclaimed abstract artist Sean Scully saw Tansey’s work exhibited for the first time in a 1983 NCAD Degree Show, he called Tansey one of the most exciting prospects in Irish art.

Tansey’s paintings have immense visual power. He typically uses rollers as well as brushes to apply acrylic co-polymer paints in countless thin layers until the desired colour saturation is achieved, utilizing tape to achieve ultra-crisp edges.

Francis TanseyIn their expression of spacial relationships and juxtapositioning of colour, they have several characteristics in common with the Abstract Expressionists Mondrian and Rothko.

Since he began painting full-time, Francis Tansey has shown his works in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and his work is in the collections of the Ulster Museum, the Arts Council of Ireland, Jefferson Smurfit Group, AIB and many other corporate and private collections.

John Shinnors

John ShinnorsThe contemporary Irish abstract landscape artist and genre scene painter John Shinnors was born in Limerick in 1950. He studied drawing and fine art painting at the Limerick School of Art and Design, and during his career has enjoyed regular solo exhibitions throughout Ireland as well as a wide range of group exhibitions. He is a member of Aosdana.

As a painter, John Shinnors is primarily a landscape artist whose focus has become increasingly abstract. Typically, he creates several preliminary watercolour studies before executing his large scale oil painting works, usually on stretched linen or cotton. His paintings, which also include interior scenes, exhibit rich chiaroscuro qualities and dramatic contrasts between light and dark.

John Shinnors’ artworks have appeared in one-man exhibitions in many galleries, including: Goodwin’s Gallery, Limerick (1978); Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick (1984); Taylor Galleries, Dublin (1998); Taylor Galleries, Dublin (2000);Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, (Travelling) (2003); The Hunt Museum, Limerick (2003); The Hunt Museum, Limerick (2004); Taylor Galleries, Dublin (2004); Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork (2005); Vangard Gallery, Co. Cork (2003). In addition he has shown at numerous Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) and Oireachtas shows.

John Shinnors 2John Shinnors’ work is represented in many public and private collections such as: Arts Council of Ireland; National Self Portrait Collection, University of Limerick; Office of Public Works; AIB (Allied Irish Banks); Ulster Museum, Belfast; Limerick City Gallery of Art (includes National Collection of Contemporary Drawing). He was the subject of the RTÉ1 documentary “Split Image John Shinnors”. He is also involved in the promotion of the arts through the Shinnors Scholarship. He lives and works in Limerick.

The highest price paid at auction for a painting by John Shinnors was recorded in 2008, when his work, entitled Estuary Forms – Limerick, was sold at Morgan O’Driscoll, in Co Cork, for €70,000.

Louis le Brocquy, HRHA (1916-2012)

Louis le Broquy 2The Dublin-born artist Louis le Brocquy is recognised both in Ireland and around the world as one of the great Irish artists of the 20th century. A master of painting (in figurative and abstract genres), illustration, printmaking, tapestry design and set design, his prodigious work has received widespread international praise during a career spanning seventy years. Awarded the Premio Acquisito Internationale for his painting A Family, which was later included in the historic exhibition ‘Fifty Years of Modern Art’ at Brussels, World Fair 1958, le Brocquy is widely acclaimed for his portrait art, notably his series of Heads of literary figures and fellow artists, which include William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and his friends Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon and Seamus Heaney.

In addition, his earlier Tinker subjects and Grey period pictures have attracted enormous attention in the international and Irish art market, propelling him into the top group of four modern painters of Ireland and Britain along with Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. At home, Le Brocquy was one of the few painters to be included in the Permanent Irish Collection of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Le Brocquy first studied chemistry at Trinity College, Dublin, before entering the family business in 1934. Four years later, he left Ireland for two years to study paintings by the great masters in the National Gallery (London), the Louvre Museum (Paris), Venice and Geneva. He returned to Ireland in 1940, to begin a career as a self-taught artist. Along with other contemporary Irish artists, such as Mainie Jellett (1897-1944), Evie Hone (1894-1955), Nora McGuinness (1901-80), and others, he was a founder-member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943. Three years later, in 1946, he moved to London where he had his first solo exhibition in 1947. In 1958, he married another Irish artist, Anne Madden, and settled in the south of France.

Louis le BrocquyLe Brocquy’s prodigious painting career has included seven overlapping periods: his Tinker paintings 1946-1948; his Grey Period 1950-1956; his White Period 1956-1966; his Head Series 1964-2006; his Procession Series 1984-1992; his Human Images 1996-2004; and latterly his Homage Paintings 2005-2006, which commemorate some of his favourite predecessors such as Velazquez, Francisco de Goya, Paul Cézanne and Edouart Manet.

In addition, his still-life painting includes: Still life with Book and Penny (1941); Still life with Apples (1951); Study for Flowers (1953); Still life with Grapes (1955); Fruit Now and Then (1970), Fruit in the Hand (1974).

He was a keen student of the Renaissance paintings of Titian (1485-1576), as well as the nineteenth century French artists Edgar Degas (1834-1917) and Edouard Manet (1832-1883). Above all, he was inspired by the great Spanish painters El Greco (1541-1614), Velázquez (1599-1660) and Goya (1746-1828) for their use of whites and greys.

A major focus of Le Brocquy’s art is the human face and head, which he sees as merely the physical iceberg-like manifestation of the spirit which lies beneath. In these pictures, he tries to (as he says) “paint the head image from the inside out”, in order to convey the potential reality of the interior being.

During his long career, Le Brocquy illustrated the work of numerous Irish writers, including Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett, as well as Thomas Kinsella for whose translation of The Táin Le Brocquy produced a range of celebrated lithographic brush drawings. Other works illustrated by Le Brocquy include The Playboy of the Western World by J.M. Synge (1970); The Gododdin by Desmond O’Grady (1977); and The Dubliners by James Joyce (1986). In addition, he created the set and costume design for Asmus’s critically acclaimed 1988 production of Waiting for Godot, at the Gate Theatre, Dublin.

In addition to his mastery of painting, printmaking, illustration and set-design, Le Brocquy was also a world class designer of tapestry art. Indeed, in the opinion of some critics he was a seminal figure in the rebirth of this art form. First introduced to the medium in 1948, as a result of an invitation by the Edinburgh Tapestry Weavers, he later collaborated with the long-established French company Tabard Frères & Soeurs to produce tapestries like: Travellers 1948, Allegory (1950), the Eden series (1951-52), the Inverted series (1948-99), the Cúchulainn series (1973-1999), and the Garden series (2000). Examples of Le Brocquy’s tapestries can be viewed in several art museums including the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Ireland.

Today, Le Brocquy is regarded as one of the most innovative representatives of visual art of Ireland. His works have been shown in some of the best art museums in North America, Japan, Australia, France, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia and Mexico, and have been the subject of retrospectives in a number of major galleries, including the Irish Museum of Modern Art (1966). His paintings are represented in many public collections, such as New York’s Guggenheim Museum and the London Tate.

Le Brocquy was an elected Saoi of Aosdana, and in 2007, he was conferred with The Freedom of the City of Dublin, the highest award the City can bestow. He died on April 25, 2012.

The auction record for a work by Louis Le Brocquy was set in 2000, when his oil painting, entitled Travelling Woman with Newspaper (1947), was sold at Sotheby’s, in London, for £1,158,500. Note: In 2002, Louis Le Brocquy’s masterpiece A Family (1951) was sold by private treaty for £1.7 million

Francis Bacon (1909-1992)

francis-bacon-screaming-popeFrancis Bacon (1909-1992) was an Irish figurative painter, influenced in his earlier years by Picasso and surrealism, whose unique expressionist style of painting, which emerged during the 1950s, featured pictures of people screaming or in pain, often portrayed inside bathrooms or cages. His tortured, nightmarish imagery projected a world of violent and shocking humanity. His talent as a modern expressionist artist blossomed alongside a shambolic personal life, marked by extreme sensuality, gambling and alcoholism. Even so, he was one of the most famous figures in Irish painting and a unique figure in the history of Irish art.

Francis Bacon was born in Dublin. His parents were English and moved several times between England and Ireland. A shy asthmatic child with an effeminate manner, Bacon had little formal schooling, or instruction in either drawing or painting, being taught instead by private tutors. In his late teens, his effeminacy led to the beginning of a lifetime of gay encounters with rich men, many of whom would contribute financially to his career as a painter.

Bacon’s first artistic successes were as a designer of furniture, rugs and interiors, although he maintained his interest and activity in fine art, being particularly stimulated by Picasso’s Neo-Classical drawings as well as his paintings like Les Baigneuses and Le Baiser. In 1933 he achieved his first real sale when his oil painting Crucifixion (1933) was bought by Sir Michael Sadler. In 1934 Bacon staged his first solo exhibition – “Paintings by Francis Bacon” – at the new Transition gallery, displaying seven oils and half a dozen gouache compositions. For a while he painted comparatively little after his solo show in 1934, and destroyed many of the canvases he did complete during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Not until 1944 did be begin to paint intensively again.

The oil and pastel painting Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944) heralds the beginning of his mature style and includes elements that he returned to many times, such as: the triptych format, the open mouth, and the distorted imagery. When first exhibited in 1945, the painting caused a sensation, and established Bacon among art critics as a major (if controversial) exponent of modern art. Bacon followed this with another masterpiece, Painting (1946).

Francis Bacon 2In 1949, Bacon’s series of six paintings (Head I to Head VI) were exhibited at what was, in effect, a one-man show at the Hanover Gallery. with Study from the Human Body (1949) and Study for Portrait (1949) formed the core of the show with four other paintings by Bacon. His first solo show outside Britain was held in 1953 at Durlacher Brothers, New York, and his first retrospective was held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 1955.

Another landmark painting was his Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) which is a distorted version of the Portrait of Innocent X (1650, Doria Pamphili Gallery, Rome) painted by Diego Velazquez. The painting is one of 45 variations of the Velazquez picture which Bacon executed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. When quizzed as to his interest in the subject, Bacon said he merely wanted an excuse to use purple colours without being accused of being a Fauvist.

In 1962, the London Tate Gallery staged a Francis Bacon retrospective, which travelled to Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Other significant exhibitions of his paintings were held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1963); the Grand Palais in Paris (1971); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1975); the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1989); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1990); and the Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris (1996).

Bacon died from a heart attack on April 28, 1992, in Madrid, Spain. After his death, the contents of his chaotic studio at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington, were donated to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.

Most Expensive Paintings By Francis Bacon include the following:

Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969)
Sold by Christie’s New York, in November 2013, for $142 million. The world’s most expensive painting.

Triptych (1976)
Sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2008 for $86.3 million.

Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards (1984)
Sold at Christie’s New York in 2014 for $80.8 million.

Portrait of George Dyer Talking (1966)
Sold at Christie’s London in February 2014 for $70 million.

Study After Velazquez’ Portrait of Innocent X (1953)
Sold for $52.6 million at Sotheby’s New York, in 2007.

Three Studies for a Self Portrait (1985-6)
Sold for $34.4 million at Christie’s London in 2008.

Version No 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe (1968)
Fetched $19.3 million at Christie’s auction, New York, in 2006.

Crouching Nude (1952)
Sold for £8.3 million (Sotheby’s London, June 2011)

Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light (1973)
Bought for £8 million at Christie’s London in 2007.

Portrait of George Dyer Staring into a Mirror (1967)
Fetched £4.9 million at Christie’s London, in 2005.