Anne Yeats: The Everyday Fantastic

Anne Yeats (1919–2001), Painted sketch of two ancient Irish hounds. Pencil and paint on paper. ESB CSIA Collection at the National Gallery of Ireland. © Estate of Anne Yeats, DACS London/IVARO Dublin, 2021. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

Explore the imagination of the artist and designer through the Gallery’s archive

Opened on the 2nd October 2021 at the National Gallery of Ireland, Anne Yeats: The Everyday Fantastic explores the imagination, process and experimentation of the artist and designer Anne Yeats (1919-2001), through an exhibition of selected works from her archive. Admission is free.

This exhibition is part of a series of annual exhibitions supported by ESB, through their sponsorship of the National Gallery of Ireland’s ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art (ESB CSIA).

Anne Yeats, chief designer for the Abbey Theatre, worked in oils and designed for theatre and publication. The daughter of W.B. Yeats, she was raised within the culture of the Irish Gaelic Revival. She moved between traditional and modern worlds, and drew creatively on her observations and her imagination. Anne started working at the Abbey Theatre at 16; founded Graphic Studio, Dublin in 1960; and was a founding member of Aosdána. She managed the Yeats family archive and donated part of it to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1996. Anne Yeats’s own archives and sketchbooks were donated to the Gallery by her brother Michael in 2002.

Anne Yeats: The Everyday Fantastic explores themes in the artist’s work such as ‘Fantastic Animals’, ‘Fine Art Print’ and ‘Backstage Theatre’, which will interest adults and children alike. Visitors are invited to explore Yeats’s important contribution to Irish culture through dozens of sketches, etchings and paintings drawn from her archive in the National Gallery of Ireland’s collection, giving a glimpse into her aesthetic interests and creative process.

The exhibition highlights creativity, experimentation and process in Yeats’s art practice across a number of decades, demonstrating the importance of artists’ archives and the role they play in an artist’s work – as a location where creativity, experimentation, failure and progress in art practice are documented.

Donal Maguire, Curator of the ESB CSIA and co-curator of the exhibition, said:

“Anne Yeats was born into the most celebrated family of the Irish Celtic Revival. However, her own artistic development reflected a broader interest in modern art and design. This is represented most personally and intimately in her archive – one of the most extensive and splendid artists’ archives at the National Gallery. We hope that visitors will enjoy exploring this diverse selection of works, which provide an unparalleled insight into the creative processes and imagination of this dynamic and innovative figure in Irish art and design.”

Anne Yeats: The Everyday Fantastic opened on 2 October 2021 and runs until 9 October 2022. Admission is free. Entry to all exhibitions year-round is free for Friends of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Peter O’Shea, Corporate& Regulatory Affairs Manager, ESB said: “We are delighted that through our sponsorship of the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art we are helping to promote and support awareness of important Irish artists such as Anne Yeats. The ESB CSIA holds one of the important collections of research material relating to the history of Irish art, and we are proud to be associated with it.”

Exhibition Listing

What: Anne Yeats: The Everyday Fantastic

When: 2 October 2021 – 9 October 2022

Venue: National Gallery of Ireland (Room 11), Entry via Merrion Square West, Dublin 2.

Admission: Free