This Week in the Art World: A Glimpse of 1939

Welcome, art aficionados, to another captivating time-traveling escapade with Irish Art Mart. This week, we transport you to the fascinating world of art in the year 1939. A time marked by artistic resilience, political turbulence, and the continued evolution of creative expression.

In 1939, the art world was navigating the challenges posed by the political climate, with the shadows of World War II looming large. Despite the uncertainties, artists persevered, contributing to a rich tapestry of movements that defined the era.

1939 – A Year of Artistic Determination

In the midst of political upheaval, the European art scene was resilient, with artists seeking innovative ways to convey their thoughts and emotions. Let’s explore the key developments and notable artists of this pivotal year:

  • Surrealism Endures – Surrealism, known for its exploration of the subconscious, endured during this tumultuous period. René Magritte and Salvador Dalí continued to captivate audiences with their enigmatic works. Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images” and Dalí’s “The Enigma of Hitler” stand as testament to their surreal genius. Delve deeper into Surrealism here.
  • Cubism’s Legacy – Cubism, initiated by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, had a lasting impact on the art world. Though its peak had passed, the echoes of Cubist influence persisted. Explore Picasso’s “Guernica,” a powerful anti-war statement, and Braque’s “The Clarinet” to understand the enduring legacy of Cubism here.
  • Expressionism in the Shadows – Expressionism, with its focus on emotional intensity, faced challenges during this time. However, artists like Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele had left an indelible mark on the movement. Revisit Munch’s iconic “The Scream” and Schiele’s “Self-Portrait with Physalis” to appreciate the depth of Expressionist emotion here and here.

Irish Art in 1939

In Ireland, the art scene was characterized by a commitment to expression and cultural identity:

  • Jack Butler Yeats – Yeats, a master of expression, continued to paint scenes of Irish life. “The Liffey Swim” from 1939 is a vivid example of his ability to capture the spirit of his surroundings. Immerse yourself in Yeats’ artistic journey here.
  • Mainie Jellett – A key figure in the Irish modernist movement, Jellett’s work in 1939 reflected her engagement with Cubism and abstraction. “Design for a Stained Glass Window” is a testament to her innovative spirit. Explore more about Jellett’s contributions here.


As we step out of our artistic time capsule, we acknowledge the resilience of the art world in 1939. Despite the shadows of war, artists persisted, leaving a legacy that resonates to this day.

Stay tuned for more captivating journeys through art history with Irish Art Mart. Art is not just a reflection of its time; it is a timeless expression that transcends the boundaries of history.

Explore our extensive collection to discover your next artistic treasure.

Until our next adventure, keep exploring, keep learning, and keep feeling the world through the eyes of these masterful artists!

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article  do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Irish Artmart.


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