IMMA are delighted to present this fully illustrated monograph on Mary Swanzy. It includes text by Seán Kissane, Curator, IMMA and a biography by Liz Cullinane, artist and researcher.
Mary Swanzy was a pioneering figure in Irish art. Born in Dublin in 1882 she was educated in Paris where she witnessed the birth of Modern Art and after 1914 exhibited at the Paris Salons alongside those modern artists who are now household names. She mastered the academic style of painting at a young age and her work rapidly evolved through different styles: Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Symbolism and Surrealism; each of these interpreted and transformed by her in a highly personal way. Very widely travelled she had seen much of Europe by the age of twenty. Following the devastation of the First World War she went to Czechoslovakia as an aid worker and travelled widely in the region. In 1923 she literally crossed the world on an epic voyage to Hawaii and Samoa producing a body of work that is unique in an Irish context. Throughout the 20s and 30s she exhibited in the USA, Hawaii, UK, Belgium, and Ireland and regularly in Paris at both the Salon des Indépendants and the Beaux-Arts. In 1920 she was elected to the committee of the Paris Independents and she also participated in the founding of the Society of Dublin Painters – Ireland’s first Modern Art gallery; and participated in the first Irish Exhibition of Living Art. In 1946 she was included in a group exhibition in London with Braque, Vlaminck, Dufy, Chagall, William Scott and Henry Moore. She held strident views on the role of female artists making off the cuff remarks such as ‘if I had been born Henry instead of Mary my life would have been very different’ or ‘ladies have to paint pussy-wussies and doggy-woggies’ revealing that she was conscious of the ways in which her gender impacted on her career. This publication is the first complete monograph on the artist and aims to introduce the audience to Swanzy’s extraordinary achievements and reinstate her reputation as a Modern Irish Master.