Terror and the Sublime: Art in an Age of Anxiety
20 November 2009–27 February 2010
Terror and the Sublime: Art in an Age of Anxiety features works by thirty-three artists, from the late eighteenth century to the present, whose subject-matter reflects the spirit of their times. Whether it is the nineteenth century painter Francis Danby, identifying in the mountains of Norway a metaphor for the challenges facing his survival as an artist, or contemporary sculptor Jim Sanborn, creating a replica of the first atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, the exhibition gives an insight into the way artists respond to the times they live in, but also how their works shape the way we look at the world.
The uncertainties and fears resulting from political and social upheavals such as the American War of Independence or the Revolution in France informed Edmund Burke´s political views, but it was his 1757 essay on aesthetics, "A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful" that directly inspired artists such as George Barret and James Barry, whose paintings form the starting point of the exhibition. Terror and the Sublime also includes dramatic and visionary paintings from the Romantic period, by James Arthur O´Connor, Francis Danby, and the Cork artist Samuel Forde. ese historic paintings are juxtaposed with works in a variety of media by contemporary artists, including Andreas Gursky, Cecily Brennan, Nigel Rolfe, Omas Ruff and Clare Langan, artists who continue to address the same issues of human vulnerability and the tensions that exist between the individual and society.
Irrespective of the century in which they were born, the work of each of these artists resonates with a psychological intensity, drawn in part from uncompromising themes, but also from the spirit of their age. While the Crawford Gallery exhibition may not have the power to “transform human kind by unlocking the Ancient Mysteries”, it does allow visitors to view the world through the eyes of artists whose creativity, and responsiveness to concerns that have remained pertinent through the centuries, enriches and informs our world.
Artists: George Barrett, Aideen Barry, James Barry, William Bradford, Cecily Brennan, Oliver Comerford, Gary Coyle, Francis Danby, Michelle Deignan, Willie Doherty, Jonathan Fisher, Mary FitzGerald, Samuel Forde, James Forrester, David Godbold, Andreas Gursky, Clare Langan, Robert Longo, Fergus Martin, Paul Nugent, John Martin, Eoin McHugh, Theresa Nanigian,James Arthur O´Connor, Hughie O´Donoghue, George Petrie, Nigel Rolfe, Thomas Ruff, Jim Sanborn, Sean Shanahan, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Paul Winstanley and the writer Edmund Burke.