In the line of beauty at the IMMA

2013-10-27 14.34.33

There was certainly plenty to see during my recent visit to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Another exhibition taking place, on the ground floor of the east wing and accessed from the courtyard, was “In the line of beauty”, which featured works by a number of young Irish artists. The title of the exhibition intrigued me. According to the IMMA’s website

The title of this exhibition is taken from the term ‘The Line of Beauty’, a concept within art used to describe an S-shaped curved line (a serpentine line) appearing within an object, as the boundary line of an object, or as a virtual boundary line formed by the composition of several objects. (IMMA website)

and that

this theory originated with William Hogarth and is an essential part of Hogarth’s theory of Aesthetics, as described in his theoretical treatise The Analysis of Beauty , 1753. According to this theory, S-Shaped curved lines signify liveliness and activity, and excite the attention of the viewer as contrasted with straight lines, parallel lines, or right-angled intersecting lines which signify stasis, death, or inanimate objects. (IMMA website)

Which probably explains why a print by Hogarth from the IMMA’s collection – Analysis of Beauty Plate I, 3rd State -  which was not exactly typical of the other works on display, featured in the exhibition.

William Hogarth - Analysis of Beauty - Plate I

But according to the IMMA’s blog, Alan Hollinghurst’s novel The Line of Beauty was the direct inspiration for the exhibition, and the author also contributed a excerpt from his novel.

I enjoyed the exhibition. There were some very interesting and beautiful works on display which demonstrated the pool of talented young artists in Ireland today. I didn’t understand everything – but when do you ever with Modern and Contemporary art?

One of my favourite pieces was Unsold  by Fiona Hallinan. She created this work specifically for the exhibition by collecting petals from the IMMA gardens over a period of time and pinned them on the gallery wall

as a representation of the moment they turned from having an aesthetic value to becoming waste.

 Fiona Hallinan

Unsold (2011/2013) Fiona Hallinan

Simple, but very effective.

I also was fascinated by "A pot in the life of Janet Hamer" by Joseph Noonan Ganley. It was based around a simple ceramic work – a pot on a ceramic hanger (based on a simple Portuguese water cooler), and was a text work which told the story of how Janet Hamer (an artist working in ceramics, born in Lancashire but now living and working in Wales)  created the pot interspersed with technical details of the chemical processes involved in firing ceramics. I found it fascinating – the chemistry hooked me but I found the piece as a whole very interesting – a cross between literary and visual art. There’s some information on it here.

Pot in the life of Janet Harmer, 2012, Joseph Noonan-Ganley, nine A1 black and whiteprints and ceramics (Picture source IMMA Facebook page)

This is a simple work made of coloured polystyrene balls that I found quite attractive and effective. It rather reminded me of a miniature solar system.

Colour Sphere Rating System for Consumer Responsibility, 2012 Lisa Murphy.

There’s some more photos of the exhibition on the IMMA’s blog here.

I don’t understand how the works linked in with Hogarth’s “line of beauty”. None of them were exactly s-shaped or contained s-shaped lines. But that didn’t stop me appreciating them and the exhibition as a whole.


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