Friday Archive – Joyce in Art


Anyone who tends to throw their eye over our Lilliput Twitter account will have noticed that, of late, many of our tweets have been related to the visual arts; be it tweets about the artist and sculptor Carol Rama at IMMA or the photographer William Eggleston at the National Portrait Gallery in London or David Hockney at the MAC in Belfast. At Lilliput our interest spans the whole of the Arts. Though Lilliput is synonymous with literature we also have a really wonderful collection of modern art books and photography books, books on architecture and books on graphic art. Our favourites include a gorgeous limited edition book by Barry Cooke and the wonderful books by Bill Doyle on the Aran Islands and old Dublin respectfully. All are produced to typical Lilliput standards, each folio sheet is thick and smooth to the touch, sturdy hardbacks donning gorgeous book covers. Joyce in Art is a gem nuzzled in between our many books on the topic of Joyce but this book is somewhat of an anomaly given that its focus is upon visual modern art inspired by Joyce. Joyce in Art was originally published to accompany the exhibition, also entitled Joyce in Art, held in the RHA by the author Christa–Maria Lerm Hayes on the centenary of Bloomsday, 16 June 2004. It was lauded at the time for being the first art historical account of visual art inspired by James Joyce. Like the exhibition itself, the book offers a comprehensive study of the most original, provocative work from artists who held an interest in Joyce, notably Man Ray, Brancusi, Eisenstein, Matisse, Pollock, Motherwell, Scully, Beuys, Christo, Bacon, Hamilton, Cage, le Brocquy and Cooke to name but a few. This book is clearly not just for Joyceans but for anyone with an interest in modern literature and the contemporary arts.

Every major art movement since the 1920s is represented in Joyce in Art. It is so fascinating to see how these artists with a passion for Joyce have reworked his influence into their work. Each artist, in differing ways, plays with Joyce’s fascinating motifs and literary innovations – from the epiphanies and stylistic multiplicity of Ulysses, to the use of portmanteau words in Finnegans Wake – and rework Joyce to create their own media. The Joycean scholar Fritz Senn writes an excellent introduction to the book and makes an interesting point;

‘Critics who explain Joyce or put him in perspective had better understand what they write about (not that they always do), but artists themselves are under no such compulsion. Their depictions are worthwhile in themselves, autonomous objects, resplendent or puzzling in their own right, with an independent life that in most cases transcends Joyce’s prime stimulus. Art generates art….’

Here are some images from the book of these artists’ work that we find most compelling:

William Anastasi, bad from Bababad Series (1989), Michael Craig-Martin, Wall Drawing 111-B (1990), Louis le Brocquy “Image of Joyce” (1991), Sean Scully “Alone” from Pomes Penyeach (1993),  Susan Weil, Ulysses Relief (1990).

_20160902_163938 _20160902_164053 _20160902_164111 _20160902_164333