Are we to take Michael Flatley seriously as an artist? In terms of the prices his work commands the answer would appear to be yes. But the jury is out of his recognition by the establishment.
Most Irish artists who can command the sort of sums his newly emergent art appears to be able to achieve have at the very least a track record of exhibition in major art institutions.
Michael Flatley has global celebrity which in terms of selling seems to be at least as potent. His art is linked to his celebrity as a dancer.
He creates it by dancing on the canvas. His first exhibition, due to be held in London this summer, is entitled “Art of the Dance”.
In advance of that show the two most expensively estimated works in the catalogue for Morgan O’Driscoll’s Irish and International art auction at the RDS on April 20 are by Michael Flatley.
The Power, from the Castlehyde Private Collection, is estimated at a cool €70,000-€90,000, Flight of the Quetzal at a more modest €40,000-€50,000.
Estimates like that are light years ahead of the works of long established Irish artists, living and dead, in a catalogue which contains fine examples by George Campbell, Hughie O’Donoghue, Camille Souter, Maurice Wilks, Cecil Maguire, Dan O’Neill, Tony O’Malley, William Scott, Colin Middleton and a bistro lemon painted by Louis le Broquy for Pierre Michelin of food guide and tyre fame.
A tap danced painting by Flatley sold for €22,500 at Sheppards in Durrow last December. Viewing at Morgan O’Driscoll’s offices in Skibbereen on today, tomorrow and Monday from noon to 5 pm each day.
London viewings at La Galleria, Pall Mall April 13, 14 and 15 and viewings in Dublin from Friday, April 17.