“Springs of Creation”: BLAST and Irish Art

In: BLAST at 100

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In seeking to establish the connections between BLAST and Irish art, this essay continues a project initiated in recent scholarship by Rebecca Beasley and Scott W. Klein, aimed at placing BLAST in those international contexts to which, at points, the magazine seemed so vehemently averse. The essay begins by tracing references to Ireland in the magazine, mostly pertaining to the Celtic Revival and the associated sense of a natural “mysticism” against which the new “native” English art of BLAST can be – uneasily – defined. On the contrary, as this essay goes on to show, BLAST was in fact deeply indebted to and embedded in specifically Irish networks of artistic production and patronage, most notably through the figures of John Quinn and W.B. Yeats. Finally, the essay explores the heretofore under-examined relationship between the BLAST contributors and the Irish artist and architect, Eileen Gray, whose excision from Lewis’s later accounts of the pre-war period can be seen to continue and exemplify a strategy of disavowal in BLAST, one which imbues the magazine with its singular sense of aesthetic unity, but also arguably militated against any prospect of longevity and evolution for the movement it attempted to foster.