This was an old blog post I found in draft, just publishing it as it’s handy for me when doing talks and the like…
The Irish avant-garde is a term used to describe artistic movements in Ireland that have sought to challenge traditional forms and conventions. These movements have emerged throughout the history of Irish art, beginning in the early 20th century and continuing to the present day.
The Irish tradition of Bardic poets and Aighling, also known as the Gaelic bardic tradition, predates the Surrealist movement.
The Gaelic bardic tradition is a centuries-old tradition of oral poetry and storytelling that has played an important role in Irish culture and history. Bardic poets, also known as aos dána, were a class of poets who were highly respected and influential in Irish society. They were responsible for composing and reciting poems and stories that celebrated the history, culture, and myths of the Irish people.
Surrealism, on the other hand, is a 20th-century artistic movement that emerged in the 1920s and was characterized by the use of irrational and surreal elements in art and literature. Surrealism was influenced by a number of different sources, including the theories of Sigmund Freud, the Dada movement, and the works of poets and writers such as Arthur Rimbaud and Comte de Lautréamont. Our Gaelic bardic tradition and Surrealism both involve the use of unconventional language and imagery.
The Surrealist movement was inspired by a variety of sources, including the theories of Sigmund Freud, the Dada movement, and the works of poets and writers such as Arthur Rimbaud and Comte de Lautréamont.
Sigmund Freud’s theories of the unconscious mind and the role of the unconscious in shaping human behavior had a significant influence on Surrealism. The Surrealists believed that the unconscious mind was the source of creativity and that by tapping into the unconscious, they could create art that was more authentic and expressive.
The Dada movement, which emerged in the aftermath of World War I, was also a major influence on Surrealism. The Dadaists were a group of artists and writers who rejected traditional forms and values and sought to create art that was irrational and absurd. The Surrealists were inspired by the Dadaists’ rejection of traditional forms and their embrace of the irrational and the absurd.
I often hear talk of breaking the lineage of generational trauma on social media and I witness in life too. People are far more emotionally aware, empathic, and know how to set boundaries – can you also see the correlation between Surrealism and avant-garde “thinking” and this new-wave of mental health warriors; we are questioning logic, our thoughts, our mindset, internal bias (which we inherit to an extent) and are learning to tune into intuition. I found Surrealism poetry to be a wonderful source of this wellness and inspiration to work on my own mindset.
Back on track; the works of poets and writers such as Arthur Rimbaud and Comte de Lautréamont had a significant influence on Surrealism. These writers were known for their use of unconventional language and imagery, and their works were seen as a source of inspiration for the Surrealists.
One of the earliest examples of the Irish avant-garde was the Irish language literary movement known as the “Irish language renaissance,” which emerged in the 1930s and 1940s. This movement was marked by its use of unconventional language and form, and its members were known for their ability to create a sense of mystery and magic in their writing.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Irish art scene was marked by the emergence of several avant-garde movements, including Fluxus, Minimalism, and Conceptualism. These movements were characterized by their focus on simplicity, minimalism, and conceptual ideas, and they had a significant impact on the development of Irish art.
Today, the Irish avant-garde continues to thrive, with artists exploring a wide range of media and techniques in their work. These artists are known for their innovative approaches to art-making and their willingness to challenge traditional forms and conventions. The Irish avant-garde remains an important and influential force in the world of art, and it continues to shape and influence the direction of Irish art.