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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Barrel Man

Viewed: The Barrel Man, at the Jack Yeats exhibition currently at National Gallery in Dublin. [Masefield and Yeats’s] ‘… holiday took them through Mayo. It was on this visit that Jack first saw and drew the Barrel Man act in a local fairground, an image which clearly haunted him. Jack’s annotations to the drawings indicate something of the savagery behind this particular circus stunt, in which the man himself faced an onslaught of sticks, disappearing down into the barrel when the going gets too tough. Many years later, in Humanity’s Alibi, the distilled experience of 1903 became an apocalyptic vision in which the daring and the courage of the lone figure rising out of the dark barrel to a face a sky filled with flying cudgels, evokes the battle of the individual against the destiny he chooses for himself, no matter how insane the choice may be.’

(Bruce Arnold, Jack Yeats)

Can't find an image of The Barrel Man, sadly. The man who picked up the sticks and handed them back to the crowd was called the Maggie Man. Yeats did a study of him too, but I can’t find that online either. Cudgels and brickbats seem in order.

1 comment:

Mark Granier said...

The item you require is at:

Just scroll down for an image of the man in question.

Interesting post. JBY is probably my favourite Irish painter.