new-york

Jack B. Yeats

New York Cultural Center

Jack B. Yeats was an uneven but remarkably good Expressionist painter. Roughly on a par with—but sometimes better than—Soutine, he occasionally equalled Kokoschka, except that his sensations were commoner and less articulate. It is difficult to assess Yeats fairly because he has been made a cult figure in a homey Irish chauvinism that doesn’t do him justice at home and vulgarizes his reputation overseas. In fact, many Irish devotees of Yeats’ painting ignorantly and anxiously deny any relations between his work and Expressionism in the rest of Europe, even when such parallels could add demonstrative conviction to his worth.

There is also the difficulty that his subjects are often so local that outside Ireland we have to remind ourselves that a steady throb of melancholy runs through them, even when they look cheerful. There really is only one subject, and that is a sort of compound

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