The Butler Gallery has an outstanding resource in its fine permanent collection. Established in 1943, the collection has continued to flourish through gift, loan and purchase. The gallery has an ongoing commitment to make sure this collection is exhibited and enjoyed by the public. Including loans from the Sir Basil Goulding Collection and from private collections, the Butler Gallery Collection is an eclectic catalogue of diverse genres that can be read and appreciated on many levels.
For our 2017 collection exhibition we were honored to include a very special group of works on loan from the Permanent Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). This group incorporated a seminal sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, self-portraits by Chuck Close and John Coplans, prints by Alex Katz and Paula Rego, and a photographic portrait by Thomas Ruff. The theme of Personae running through the exhibition focused our eye on portraits, figures or other forms that either readily reveal or camouflage an identity. Narratives indisputably evolve upon viewing works as diverse as the openness and glamour of Diane Arbus’s Girl in a shiny dress, NYC 1967 to the enigma of Jackie Nickerson’s portrait of a woman in the Sultanate of Oman, whose identity is hidden by a headdress.
The works from IMMA were selected in response to, or in sympathy with, the works chosen for this exhibition from the Butler Gallery Permanent Collection. The IMMA selection added freshness and maintained currency in the viewing of beloved works in the ever-evolving collection we are fortunate to maintain here in Kilkenny.