The Eye and the Word: The role of Language in the writing and Art Practice of Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland’

Liam Kelly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In art practices during the first half of the 20th century sensory craft making skills, in many respects, were emphasised at the expense of thinking. The second half of the 20th century re-addressed this imbalance by way of conceptual art in the service of ideas. In the conceptual art project language was often deployed both orally and textually. The tendency in art writing today to over-theorise, often leads to dry, dense, stale and inaccessible language (think of some doctoral theses). There are, however, writers who can bring poetic, intuitive insights in a sentence or phrase that reveals as much as the extended structural application of theory. J D McClatchy recognises this in his introduction to his book ‘Poets or Painters’ when he comments:‘The poets bring to their task a fresh eye and a freshened language, vivid with nuance and colour and force. Their essays are flecked with poetic asides and startlingly apt phrases, as when Frank O’Hara calls Jackson Pollock’s Number 12 (1952) ‘a big, brassy gigolo of a painting’’. Language for O’Doherty/Ireland is indispensable but the eye always remains paramount. In his logical ‘thinking’ approach to art he does not neglect the sensory ‘feeling’ side of his nature. The eye and the word form a mutually purposeful binary in his work. This article examines the use and importance of language in the art and writing of Irish born, New York based artist/writer Patrick Ireland/Brian O’Doherty.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-29
    JournalThe Recorder – The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society
    Volume21,No2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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