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BOSTON COLLEGE McMULLEN MUSEUM PRESENTS
Literary Lives: Portraits from the Crawford Art Gallery and Abbey Theatre, Ireland: September
4-December 5, 2010
Exhibition Showcases Compelling Portraits of Irish Writers, Depicted by Irish Visual Artists
CHESTNUT HILL, MA (9-10) — The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College
is the exclusive venue for Literary Lives: Portraits from
the Crawford Art Gallery and Abbey Theatre, Ireland. Organized by the Crawford Art Gallery in
Cork, Ireland, and the McMullen in collaboration with BC’s Irish Studies
faculty and Burns Library, it will be on display from September 4 through December
Over the last several centuries, a number of Irish artists have produced
compelling portraits of Irish writers in painting, sculpture and photography,
according to exhibition organizers. Many of these portraits were either commissioned
or purchased by various Irish national collections.
This exhibition comprises 49 of the finest examples from two of the most significant
of these collections: the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork and Abbey Theatre in
Dublin. Literary Lives combines visual portraiture with a wide range of rare
books, manuscripts, letters, illustrations and objects selected from Boston
College’s John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections
to explore questions about the literary life, both personal and professional,
and reveal how different materials offer windows onto various aspects of that
“The McMullen Museum and Irish Studies faculty at Boston College are
proud to collaborate with the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork in presenting to
the New England audience treasures from Irish National Collections and Boston
College’s Burns Library that meld and explore visual and textual biographies
of some of Ireland’s most celebrated literary figures,” says McMullen
Museum Director and professor of Art History Nancy Netzer.
Serving as co-curators for the McMullen Museum exhibition are Crawford Art
Gallery Director Peter Murray, Crawford Art Gallery Curator Anne Boddaert,
Boston College Irish Studies faculty Marjorie Howes (English Department) and
Robert Savage (History Department), and McMullen Collections and Exhibitions
Manager/Designer Diana Larsen.
“The works of art in this exhibition celebrate literary achievements,
but they also celebrate the talents of Irish visual artists. The painters,
photographers, and sculptors who created these portraits give an insight both
into the writer’s world and also into the way in which they were seen
by those around them. The subject of each portrait is a distinct and unique
talent and each portrait an example of an artist’s own individual approach,” says
[MEDIA NOTE: Jpg/Tiff images available upon request from the McMullen Museum:
please call Mary Curran at 617.552.4676 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A slideshow of images, and more exhibition details are available at www.bc.edu/artmuseum]
Public Opening Celebration: Sunday, September 5, 7-9 p.m.
September 5, the public is invited to join BC community members at an opening
celebration at the Museum from 7 to 9 p.m. Live Irish music will be featured
during a coffee and dessert reception. The event is free of charge. For more
information, please call 617.552.8587. A black-tie opening for invited guests
also will be hosted by the McMullen Museum and its Patrons.
Literary Lives: Portraits from the Crawford Art Gallery and Abbey
According to Murray, the exhibition presents “the compelling intersection
of two distinct creative disciplines: the visual artist who makes the portrait
and the writers, who have made their own mark on society, through novels, plays
and poetry. Often the portraits are an expression of respect. Jonathan Swift
is depicted by his friend Francis Bindon, while over two centuries later, the
poet Micheal O’Siadhail is painted by his friend Michael O’Dea.
Patrick Hennessy’s portrait of his friend Elizabeth Bowen is clearly
a celebration of the writer’s home and heritage, while Norah McGuinness’s
image of Frank O’Connor is an intimate portrayal of one of Cork’s
Such details as clothing, accessories and backgrounds add information about the
person depicted, he notes. “The materials of which the portrait is made
are also important, as are some of the less tangible aspects, such as the time
taken in creating the work of art. A swift snapshot by photographer John Minihan
can be a telling portrait, while an oil painting by Edward McGuire, created slowly
over many sittings, gives a different but equally compelling insight into both
artist and sitter.”
Exhibition Sections and Works:
exhibition—accompanied by a catalogue of the same title—is divided
into the following theme sections:
Origins and Influences
Irish Literary Revival: W.B. Yeats and His Circle
It comprises 35 works from the Crawford Art Gallery, 9 works from the Abbey
Theatre, 3 works from the Arts Council of Ireland and 1 work each from the
Model Arts and Niland Gallery and a private collection.
Included from BC’s Burns Library collection are 11 works of art, 7
artifacts and 90 letters, manuscripts and books, as well as a dozen photographs
from the Bobbie Hanvey Collection. The latter is a massive photography archive—which
is being digitized—that documents personalities and life in Northern
Ireland during and after “The Troubles,” taken by prominent Northern
Ireland photographer, writer and musician Bobbie Hanvey.
The exhibition—which Howes says “examines how different objects
embody aspects of a ‘literary life’: painting, photography, literature,
memoir, correspondence and artifacts”—includes an audio tour with
selected readings of authors represented in the exhibition.
McMullen Museum Installation
designed by Larsen. Labels written by Vera Kreilkamp; wall texts written by Howes
and Savage. Copyediting by McMullen publications administrator Mary Curran.
Text designed by McMullen graphic designer John McCoy. Works from the Burns
Library Collection selected by the BC co-curators with assistance from Burns
Reference Librarian Justine Sundaram.
Accompanying Programming (details/updated information at
www.bc.edu/artmuseum or e-mail email@example.com). For each of the following—time:
p.m.; location: Connolly House (300 Hammond St.); event sponsor: BC’s
Center for Irish Programs; series: Gaelic Roots Music, Song, Dance, Workshop
and Lecture Series at Boston College; admission: free, open to the public.
Sept. 30: concert by flutist Jimmy Noonan and fiddler Oisin McAuley. McAuley,
a member of the popular band Danu, is a mainstay in the local session scene.
Noonan teaches in BC’s Irish Studies Program and plays at concerts
and festivals with an impressive array of musicians including Seamus Connolly,
director of Irish music programs at BC; Louise Costello; Tommy McCarthy; and
Thurs., Oct. 21: concert by Irish button accordionist and vocalist Brendan
Begley and fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Widely respected as
soloists, Begley and Ó Raghallaigh have garnered praise for their collaboration,
which produces music equally mesmerizing and subtle as it is powerful.
Thurs., Nov. 18: lecture and concert by renowned Irish button accordionist
James Keane. In addition to his superb musicianship, Keane is known as a shanachie
and folk-historian who brings to life great Irish tradition-bearers. He has
performed and recorded with some of the leading Irish musicians of the age.
Tues., Dec. 7: concert of Irish traditional music by fiddler Laurel Martin
and banjo player, guitarist, flutist, and whistler Mark Roberts. A protégé of
Seamus Connolly and a former member of the BC Irish Studies music faculty,
Martin has recorded with the fiddle ensemble Childsplay. Roberts—who
plays guitar, banjo, flute and whistle—has recorded and toured extensively
for more than 25 years; his music was featured in the John Sayles film The
Secret of Roan Inish.
Literary Lives: Portraits from the Crawford Art
Gallery and Abbey Theatre, Ireland is
underwritten by Culture Ireland, Boston College and the Patrons of the McMullen
Underwritten in part by
McMullen Museum of Art
McMullen Museum is renowned for organizing interdisciplinary exhibitions that
ask new questions in the display and scholarship of the works on view. It
serves as a dynamic educational resource for all of New England as well as the
national and international community. The Museum mounts exhibitions of
international scholarly importance from all periods and cultures of the history
of art. In keeping with the University's central teaching mission, the Museum's
exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly catalogues and related public
programs. The McMullen Museum of Art was named in 1996 by the late BC benefactor,
trustee, and art collection John J. McMullen and his wife Jacqueline McMullen.
The Crawford Art Gallery
The Crawford Art Gallery, the city art museum for Cork, is dedicated to informing
a wide audience about the significant role that the visual arts play in contemporary
life and culture. Located in the heart of the city, the Gallery is a critical
part of Cork’s cultural and tourism infrastructure, welcoming over 200,000
visitors a year. The Gallery’s permanent collection comprises over 2,000
works, ranging from eighteenth century Irish and European painting and sculpture,
to contemporary video installations. At the heart of the collection is a selection
of casts from Greek and Roman sculpture, brought to Cork in 1818 from the Vatican
Museum in Rome. The Crawford’s collection is particularly strong in Irish
art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through its temporary
exhibitions, publications and education programs, the Crawford Gallery is committed
to fostering recognition, critical assessment and acknowledgement of historical
and contemporary art practice. The Gallery’s programming includes both
Irish and international artists, reflecting the position of Ireland as a vital
member of the EU and international community.
McMullen Museum Hours and Tours
is free; handicapped accessible and open to the public. Located in Devlin Hall
on BC's Chestnut Hill campus, 140 Commonwealth Avenue. Hours during this exhibition: Monday
through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Extended
hours: September 24, 25, 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum will be
closed on: September 6; October 11; November 25 and 26. Free
group tours: Sundays at 2 p.m. from September 19 through December 5. Tours
also may be arranged upon request by calling 617.552.8587. On-campus parking
will be unavailable on the following Saturdays: September
4, 11, 25; October 2, 23, 30; November 20. For directions, parking and information
on public programs, visit www.bc.edu/artmuseum
or call 617.552.8100