Other Men's Flowers

  • Print

Jeff Wall, Edwin Lutyens, Leon Kossoff, Martin Kippenberger, Patrick Hall, Patrick Graham, Ben Geoghegan, Brian Fay, Michael Farrell, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach

Curated by Michael Dempsey, Head of Exhibitions

The art of the past and the great collections in which it is housed have always been an important resource for artists. Either using it as a source to extract lessons of relevance for their own work or wrestling with the tradition and transforming it into something of their own making, artists consistently acknowledge the value of the work of artists of previous generation in advancing the ‘new’ and establishing their own position in the long history of art. For some, such as Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach, this engagement with the past is based on a close study of the hand of great masters and is a continual process of technical discovery. For others, such as Francis Bacon, Jeff Wall and Martin Kippenberger, the art of the past is a source of ideas to be interpreted and refashioned in works of a very different kind.

Taken from a quote by the French moralist Michel de Montaigne – ‘in this book I have only made up a bunch of other men’s flowers, providing of my own only the string that ties them together’ – this exhibition draws on the collections of the Tate and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane as well as the private collections of the artists, and attempts to set up a dialectic discord between diverse artistic approaches. In seeking to address the nature and obligations of working within the art of the past and collections, ‘Other Men’s Flowers’ asks what are the responsibilities to context when bringing such a disparate group of works together? What useful histories can unfold? How might we usefully understand the gaps and discrepancies in art production and dissemination?

The exhibition is less concerned with histories of representation and illusion than with the lived experience or intervention offered by the work of art and with how artists deal with this experience as it somehow transforms their own field of vision.