Encounters with Modernism

Isolated on the Western fringes of Europe, it took time for the influence of early 20th Century European developments in art to reach these shores. Contrasting with the traditional Irish School of painting, the development of modernism began soon after the formation of Northern Ireland as artists sought a new alignment with the experience and values of modern life.

Certain underlying principles that define modernist art are: a rejection of a realistic depiction of subjects; innovation and experimentation with form with a tendency to abstraction; and an emphasis on materials, techniques and processes. 

The main exponents of surrealism here were Colin Middleton and Nevill Johnson, whilst abstract still-life painter William Scott became one of the most international of all post-war Northern Irish artists. 

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