William English Bequest

Tom Fitzgerald (1939 –)
Bronze, rectangular wooden block, 37.8 x 8.8 x11.4
NSPCI; UL; IMMA; ACI; OPW; LCGA. Public commissions include Leaf Litany at UL (1998); Land Litany in the Irish Pavilion at EXPO 2000, Hanover (2000); The Singing Cosmos at St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin (2000); The Numbers Game at Limerick County Hall (2003); Voyage of the Alchemist in Dundalk, County Louth (2006)
John O’Regan, Tom Fitzgerald, Profile 20, Gandon Editions, Cork 2004; William Gallagher in Paula Murphy, Art and Architecture of Ireland, Vol. III, 2014, pp 114–16 (ill)
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Although he is also known for both his drawing and his paintings, Tom Fitzgerald has been one of the more innovative figures in Irish sculpture since his student days. Born in County Limerick and educated at the LSAD where he later worked as head of sculpture (1976–2000), Fitzgerald was one of the founders of EV+A, Limerick’s annual, international exhibition. He had work included in the Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1968 while he was still only a student. Initially Fitzgerald worked as a figurative artist but from early on he incorporated different materials, text and place names into his work. The influence of Joseph Beuys, who visited Limerick in 1974, inspired Fitzgerald to use found objects as important elements in his work and, while remaining figurative, to subvert obvious interpretations of those figurative elements. Speaking of a range of objects he made that resemble tools, he said; ‘I like the idea of something that appears to have a function but hasn’t’ (Gallagher, p 115). Tom Fitzgerald’s work is endlessly inventive. He resists recognizable styles, making it difficult to spot his work while making it all the more rewarding to do so.Nude Statuette is a relatively early piece. The artist engages with notions of the body derived from an interest in archaeological objects, where incompleteness is a regular feature. In the case of archaeological finds such incompleteness is the result of damage over time. Here it is a provocative enquiry into what our appreciation of it might mean today, with increasingly powerful voices claiming equality in the face of vulnerability and sexual exploitation. It invites a critical reappraisal of sculptural tradition.