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Friday, 21 August 2015

ROSC art exhibitions

The ROSC art exhibitions were a series of international exhibitions held in Dublin between 1967 and 1988. ‘ROSC’ translated as ‘poetry of vision’, and the exhibition was founded by the architect Michael Scott.

The exhibition did not take place annually, but was held in 1967, 1971, 1977, 1980, 1984 and 1988. The idea was to exhibit work created in the previous four years from the top 50 modern artists. Each show also had a side exhibition, e.g. Viking art, Chinese art, Russian art.

The inaugural ROSC exhibition
13 November 1967
The exhibition attracted quite a lot of international interest initially. For example, the 1967 exhibition included works from Picasso, Francis Bacon, Joan Miro and Williem de Kooning. It was held in the RDS for the first two exhibitions, then later in the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Guinness Hop Store. However, as the recession of the 1980s deepened, ROSC found it increasingly difficult to secure sponsors. It is unlikely the last two exhibitions would have taken place without Guinness making their Hop Store available free of charge.

William O'Loghlen, Director Bank of Ireland, Peter Owens, Managing Director of Peter Owens, Michael Scott and archaeologist Dr Marie de Paor at the press briefing for the 1977 ROSC exhibition.
25 July 1977 
The 1984 exhibition in particular encountered a lot of problems. Despite the Hop Store being made available to ROSC, the selection of art works was a major stumbling block that year. Initially, no Irish artists were included in the line-up, so an Irish panel was assigned the task of selecting ten. They couldn’t whittle their list down any further than 22, however, which lead to the withdrawal of the Dutch judge, Frits Becht, from the competition, as well as six of the seven Dutch artists. The Henry Moore side exhibition was cancelled when his representatives saw the space allocated to him, but was replaced by a Joseph Beuys exhibition. Ronnie Tallon was eventually chosen to select the Irish artists, and the final line-up had 52 artists, ten of which were Irish.

Charles Haughey admiring his likeness at the 1988 ROSC exhibition
19 August 1988 
One further ROSC exhibition was held in 1988, but it proved to be the last of the series. Micheal Scott died the following year and, though he had handed over the chair of ROSC to Patrick J. Murphy several years earlier, he had remained on the executive council. The loss of the visionary behind ROSC no doubt was another blow to the foundations of the exhibitions.


Scott was not just a loss to the ROSC exhibitions, but to the Irish architectural and art communities in general. He was the architect behind the Busaras building, as well as reconstructing the Abbey Theatre after it was burnt down. He had often walked the boards himself as a member of the Abbey Players, and was even headhunted by Se├ín O’Casey to tour the US, ending up on Broadway in ‘The Plough and the Stars’. Fortunately for Irish architecture, he eventually decided that being an architect was probably a more financially secure career than acting. Scott joined forces with Ronnie Tallon and Robin Walker to form Scott Tallon Walker in 1975, one of the most modernist architectural firms in Ireland that frequently collaborated with artists like Patrick Scott, Louis le Broquy and Anne Madden.

All images available @ Irish Photo Archive