After bringing home the Bacon in the form of the Francis Bacon Studio, the Hugh Lane Gallery consolidated its position by mounting a first-rate exhibition of the artist's paintings throughout the summer. But the unofficial projected opening date for the reconstructed studio, in November, went by the board, and IMMA's stab at Bacon, in the form of selected pieces from the Barry Joule archive of works from the artist's studio, generally got the thumbs down. However, Picasso: Working on Paper, which inaugurated the new galleries in the Deputy Master's House along with the Joule archive, was outstanding.
Notable visitors during the year included Peter Doig, who showed paintings at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, and David Mach, the industrious Scot whose massive projects have helped redefine public art. Mach had two major installations at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, during which the Butler Gallery featured a terrific Tony Cragg show. Then there was the Leon Golub retrospective at IMMA.
The opening of the Fenton Gallery in Cork, hot on the heels of the Vanguard's move to the city centre, marked an important stage in the evolution of the city's art world.
In London, Tate Modern at Bankside confounded the critics when it opened in June and has consistently boasted record attendances, giving a huge confidence boost to the contemporary British art world.
Chinese artist Xu Bing's piece for curator Rosa Martinez's EV+A 2000, which was supposed to feature copulating pigs in a car park, was a tawdry business, but, to their credit, at least the porkers declined to co-operate, preferring to munch on the shoes of spectators.