Modern Ireland in it's Artwork: ‘Decoration’ by Mainie Jellett (1923)

By Riann Coulter, Fintan O'Toole
Detail from ‘Decoration’ which draws on traditional images of the madonna and child
IRELAND---In October 1923 the Irish Times reviewed an art exhibition mounted by the Society of Dublin Painters. The anonymous critic confessed to being puzzled by two paintings by Miss “Maimie” (sic) Jellett: “They are in squares, cubes, odd shapes and clashing colours . . . to me they presented an insoluble puzzle.” This reaction was emblematic of the turn towards conservatism in a culture longing for stability and settlement after years of violent upheaval. But it was also curiously misplaced, for "Decoration" is itself a modernist take on very old themes. The expression of spirituality through art was a vital aspect of Jellett’s modernist mission and "Decoration" draws on traditional images of the madonna and child. [link]