...is an outstanding examination of Keating’s seventy-year working life as an artist, art teacher, broadcaster, and public commentator. Based on extensive research and previously unavailable archival material, it is the first ever full-scale work on the artist, richly illustrated in colour, offering a complete, thematically based, and well-balanced portrait.
This ground-breaking study explores Keating’s expansive career within the political, economic and social conditions that prevailed in pre and post-Treaty Ireland. Revealing previously unknown insights into his life, O’Connor examines Keating’s background, his difficulties at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, the networks of people he knew – Harry Clarke, William Orpen, Robert Flaherty, Noël Browne – the projects he engaged with, his political perspective and his sometimes self-destructive relationships with those whom he could not respect. The author offers new evidence about Keating’s paintings – from the War of Independence to his democratic portrayal of the Irish citizen, and from his documentation of the early industrialization of post-Treaty Ireland and his ongoing concern with the Aran Islands, to his use of allegory as a means of social and political evaluation. At the same time, O’Connor reveals the long-forgotten story of Keating’s constant belief in, and fight for, the arts and the artist in an age that oversaw the metaphorical, literal and physical construction of the Irish nation.
Richly illustrated, with over 200 colour prints, many of which have not been previously published, Seán Keating: Art Politics and Building the Irish Nation will be the definitive work on this hugely respected yet controversial Irish artist for years to come.